Last week, I was invited to a private event at Italy House sponsored and hosted by Giuseppe Alai, President of the Parmigiano-Regigiano Consortium. Though I am very fortunate to get invited to these kind of things, I rarely get the chance to attend due to my hectic work schedule. Since it was the Olympics and I really wanted to experience some of it, I built some time into my schedule and “Godfather” was my willing wingman for the day.
A lot of people have been asking me who “Godfather” is and why I don’t use anybody’s real names in the blog. Well, “Godfather” is not my godfather, he’s my daughter’s godfather. In fact, he’s never even watched the Godfather trilogy and I mock him for it often. He’s a business consultant by day and part-time cook at Tapenade Bistro. He loves to cook, loves to eat and is a cook stuck in a banker’s body. He often accompanies me to cooking competitions, cooking demonstrations, off-site caterings and different events throughout the year. He usually works on Sundays with me at the restaurant and is always willing and on call for those big nights. Yes, he’s a very good cook, he’s been by my side for many years and I trust him implicitly. Though his service and procedures can be occasionally “exotic” (eggs pop into mind), I only need to look at him a certain way and he’ll know what I need and when I need it. He’s been through many “battles” with me (Canada Day 2007 pops into mind) and I love him like a brother, but the truth is, I take him along to all these events because the heart and soul of the team is back at the restaurant holding down the fort. I wish I could take “Fat Joel”, “Great Wall” or “Boomer” with me to some of these deals, but they are too often, needed back at the shop; running the busy service and serving high quality food, in my absence. All joking aside, I owe all of my boys in the kitchen a big thank you, for all of their hard work and commitment. To answer the second question of why I don’t use people’s real names, I’m really not sure. Maybe it’s so I can make fun of people without actually using their real names; therefore making it somewhat acceptable. I guess I still have the grade school mentality in me and can’t help but enjoy, “taking the piss out of people.”
OK, back to Parmigiano-Reggiano or as Mario Batali like to call it, “The Undisputed King of Cheese”. I love Parmigiano-Reggiano and will never use any sort of parmesan knock off. OK, never is a long time, I’ll use Grana Padano for certain applications, maybe some Kraft parmesan in the green shaker at home (haha), but when I want parm, I only use the real deal. There is only one Parmigiano-Reggiano, nothing compares and parmesan cheese as most people know it, has very little to do with the real deal. It was a fun event and it was really cool to hear President Alai describe Parmigiano-Reggiano. I have a real thing for people who are overly passionate about things and it is very clear that Giuseppe Alai is one of those people. You could see it in his eyes, as he described the process of making the cheese, opening a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio and eventually smelling and tasting the cheese. You could tell how proud he was of their product and how proud he was to show it off to the world. I can really appreciate that and witnessing people stand behind their product and hearing them “wax poetically” about their passion, inspires me to do the same. The event was great; it was nice to bump into some industry friends, it was great learning about Parmigiano-Reggiano, the Tuscan wine and Proseco were nice, but the star was obviously tasting the freshly opened Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio, in all it’s simplistic glory. Two words. Outstanding.