Shift Drinks: Jason Loring

Jason Loring is one of the co-owners of Nosh, Slab, and Rhum Bar + Grog. Each are located in Portland, Maine. He is pictured with an Amaro Montenegro neat.

How did you first come upon Amaro Montenegro? 

Arlin [Smith of Hugo's] introduced it to me. It is bittersweet, which is what I like in a drink. I am telling you, I don't really have good answers here.

We'll get there. 

I like eating whole oranges with the skin on? That's why I like it. Should I sit up more?

You look great. When did you start working with food? 

Part time work after school is really how it happened. Through working there I was introduced to people who owned Back Bay Grill and it really just snowballed from there. My mom couldn't cook herself out of a hole so I didn't like a lot of things until I worked there. I was just blown away.

Do you remember the first thing you tried there that changed your perspective? 

It was Veal Demiglace with mushrooms and green beans. I couldn't handle it; I was blown away. I didn't think that was possible. My mom would make something with brown green beans out of the can, or if something was fresh she'd start cooking it in cold water and she'd be done when it was soft and mushy it was done. My dad eats everything well done and overcooked.

So I did a five day externship [at Back Bay Grill] when I was a sophomore in high school and then they offered me a job over the Summer. I was there for about a year.

What appeals to you about the industry now that you own your own places. 

I think I am growing out of cooking and I like building businesses. That's what I want to do. Sometimes I feel guilty about it because cooking… those are my roots. It's what I did for so long. You're there on Friday nights and you're sweating behind the line. Now I sometimes feel like maybe I am not doing something [when I am not doing that], or like I should be doing something more.

What makes you a good business person? 

It's like people tell you: surround yourself with people that are better than you.  Surround yourself with people who can help you grow your business and not just by doing what you want to do. I am kind of a hard ass sometimes but I try to take people's criticism and incorporate it into what I do.

Working in partnerships, which is part of the business, is like being in a relationship. There is a lot of give and there is a lot of needing to know when to give up too. You gotta know when to fold 'em. [Laughs]

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the Spring of 2014. 

Shift Drinks: Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers is a pastry chef at Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo's Restaurant. She is pictured with a Gin and Tonic. 

Disclosure: Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo's Restaurant are clients of ours, though their representation here has nothing to do with our scope of work with them. In fact, they are helping us out by lending their credibility to our project and we are grateful for that. 

Why did you settle on a Gin and Tonic? 

I don't even know. I guess when drinking out with friends you try new drinks here and there and it was always… I just enjoyed it. Especially in the Summer time and with Spring coming…

It's like you're trying to force the hand of the weather. 

I am willing it.

How did you get into the food industry?

It has actually all been at Hugo's and Eventide, though before I had done small restaurant positions while at school. I worked down on the water at Portland Lobster Company, so it was Summer time and I would work really hard and then go to school. I needed something more because I was graduating and [Eventide] had a job posting up on Craigslist. I responded and it took them two weeks to get back to me. I think they were scrambling at that point. I started the day they opened the business.

It was pretty much a blank slate for me. Like I said, I had a little bit of a basic education but they taught me everything.

This industry can be a difficult one and sometimes people don't stick around for very long. What made you stick around? 

I went to school for art, sculpture and French. For me, it was a marriage of all of those things. It was a tactile and visual thing. There are materials and you are changing them and there are endless possibilities and I fell in love with it. And you go in every day and it is never the same. It is not always the easiest, but there is always something to learn and there are great people to work with.

What have you learned? 

My biggest recent challenge was about spherification. [Note:Spherification is the culinary process of shaping liquid into spheres]. I went into it blind, thinking it would be easy. You know, you mix these things together and… It didn't turn out well. I had a slight meltdown at work, which was slightly embarrassing and infuriating and people were scared. I was scared for them. [Laughs] So I had to step away from that. I went back into it and actually planned it and did my homework. After finally getting it it was very exciting.

What have you picked up from your peers in the industry over the past two years. 

I can't even list it all. It is so much every day. I think the biggest thing I have learned, especially having worked with Andrew and Mike [Taylor and Wiley, chefs and co-owners of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo's Restaurant]… There is just so much passion. Their view on restaurants and cooking. That is very inspiring and it makes you want to be there that much more. They know and they care so much and they want everyone to experience that. When you're into it and you put your heart into it too, there is this beautiful balance and sharing of ideas that happens.

 

Shift Drinks: Tom Wriggins

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Tom Wriggins raises pigs, cows and sheep at Wriggins Hilltop Farm in Nobleboro, Maine. He is pictured here with a Hendrick's Martini with extra olives.

Why the Hendrick's Martini? 

The Hendrick's Martini is a classic. I am a classic sort of guy. A real Martini is made with gin; it is not a Kangaroo, which is the vodka version. A lot of people are into vodka Martinis but I am sort of a purist and so I like a gin that tastes like gin and a bunch of olives so you get a meal and a drink at the same time.

It's not because I think I am better than them, but I don't ever think of vodka Martinis. It just doesn't seem natural. 

I was recently in Princeton, New Jersey, and there is this place called Salt Creek Grill that I typically go to because they have half-price bottle nights on Mondays. There is a bartender there who is in training and I was quizzing her. I pointed out that they had all of these Martinis on their cocktail list, but they're all made with vodka. I asked if she knew that a Martini is not actually made with vodka—that's called a Kangaroo. I am totally blown away because nowadays everybody wants these vodka Martinis, which is great, but that is not a Martini. I like the gin and Hendrick's has a nice flavor to it. You add a few olives and you're good to go.

Why did you become a farmer? 

I could get up on the soap box and talk about how it is all about knowing where your food comes from, which I do truly believe in. We have seen all of the recalls across the United States of hamburger meat. That generic, brown hamburger you might pick up at any grocery store could have 600 different cows in the makeup of that pound of ground beef. It is about knowing where your food comes from, what you're eating, and knowing your farmer. I have been blessed with having enough land to raise a few head of cattle, a few pigs, and a few lambs. We like to know where our food comes from. That's really what it's all about.

The other side of that is that I have four freezers and I have a lot of ammunition. When the shit hits the fan and the zombies start coming up from the cities and looking for food… Not to be alarmist about it, but if I were a terrorist and I were looking to cripple the United States, I would do that through the food system. There are only about 12 large scale meat packing plants in the United States and those are controlled by McDonald's. If I wanted to make some sort of dent in this country, I would interject some kind of a toxin into the food system. Part of why I do what I do is so that I can survive, support my family, and feed my friends and family while keeping away those that are trying to take what is mine.

Why are you drawn to pigs in particular? 

We do more than just pigs, but I really enjoy them. We raise a few lambs for our own use and they are a stupid animal. They are literally the dumbest animal I have seen. When we go to load them into the trailer, they will run to the middle of the field and put their heads in a corner as if you can't see them. They're just dumb. Cows are only about one step above them.

When you look at a pig in the eye, when they look back at you, you see that they are very intelligent animals. They understand what is going on. I am sure people will laugh at me, but one of the things I have always noticed is that when I take them to the abattoir… We use Curtis Meats in Warren, Maine and these guys that do the slaughtering, they see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of animals. If somebody could get really jaded about that process and become careless and abusive, it would be those guys. But they really care about what they are doing and care that the animals are most comfortable they can be. They always make the comment that they like working with my pigs because I back my trailer in and all I have to do is shake the grain bucket, say "C'mon pigs," and they come right in. It is almost like they are giving me the salute where they are saying, "Thank you for the good life. We're ready to go on to feed you." I enjoy them. They have intelligence. They think, they're funny, and they are a joy to work with.

And our pigs eat a 90% vegetable diet. The meat is amazing. We work with 555 in Portland and theyget a whole pig from us. They will do a months worth of boutique pig products, including Prosciutto, head cheese, and other nose-to-tail type of stuff. I really enjoy raising them and I really enjoy eating them.

What do you most enjoy about doing this work in Maine?

Outside of me, your Shift Drinks series has really been focused on people in the industry. I guess I see myself as existing a little bit within the industry, but also a bit outside of what's going on because I am on the farm. From the perspective my paying job, where I travel all the time, I see that in Maine we take for granted how accessible locally sourced, farm-raised food is. When you travel around the country, you see that it is sort of unique. That expectation is not as prolific in other places as it is in Maine. I feel really blessed and lucky to be able to live in a place where so many chefs, restaurants and farmers work together to bring great product, whether it is animal, vegetable, or liquor, into the market. We live in a great place. I almost want to blow all the bridges and keep everybody out.

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the Summer of 2014. 

 

Shift Drinks: Ilma Lopez

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Ilma Lopez is pastry chef at and one of the owners of Piccolo in Portland, Maine. She is also a Partner at the Blue Rooster Food Co. She is photographed here with a Guarapita. 

Disclosure: Ilma’s restaurant Piccolo is a client of Knack Factory, though her representation here has nothing to do with our scope of work with Piccolo. 

Why did you select that beverage? 

I am from Venezuela so I grew up with rum. That was the base for when you wanted to drink alcohol. It was always cheap beer or rum.

It's nothing fancy and it is not a complicated drink by any means. In South America, you pretty much just grab any fruit that you have around you and mix it with whatever your country produces and obviously Venezuela is one of the biggest producers of rum.

The other drink I was considering was the ponche crema, which is made out of eggs and condensed milk and you make it sweet. It is pretty much like an egg nog and it comes it a little glass jar and you have it for Christmas.

How did you end up a pastry chef? 

It is a deep question. I didn't grow up with ending up in hospitality as a focus by any means. I grew up cooking. I ended up going to medical school way before I started cooking professionally because that's what my family did. Everyone was a doctor, so I figured that is what I wanted to do. Half way through medical school, I realized that I really, really liked to cook and I wanted to pursue that professionally. I wanted to do it more than just doing it at home. Everything in my family is always focused on the kitchen. Everything was food related, pretty much.

Things appear to have been very well-received up to this point. 

Yes! Working at our own restaurant has been great. I think we are in the right place at the right time. The whole move to Maine has been fantastic. The competition here is healthy and we have never felt that the people in the community are against us by any means. Moving here from New York, it has been great being the new kids. It has been really great.

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the Spring of 2014. 

Shift Drinks: Thomas Pisha-Duffly

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Thomas Pisha-Duffly is the mastermind behind Family Feast. He is also a chef at Grace Restaurant in Portland, Maine and a really big Grateful Dead fan. He is pictured here with a Michelada. You can check out Family Feast on Facebook here

So you're wearing a Grateful Dead hat and you have a Grateful Dead tattoo. 

I never wanted to be pegged as the Grateful Dead guy but here I am.

No one is a passive Grateful Dead fan, right? Grateful Dead fans are full on. And knowing what I do about you, I never in a million years would I have guessed that you were so hardcore about the Dead. 

[Laughs] In the food industry, especially in cooking, there was kind of a stigma about the Grateful Dead. This was about 7 or 8 years ago. Kitchens are kind of traditionally punk rock—or at the very least classic rock—and the Deadhead is seen as a hippie. I would get picked if I said I liked the Dead.

Now—and maybe it is because I have moved to Maine—the older I get I find more and more people coming out of the closet as Dead fans. I can list a number of prominent chefs that identify as Deadheads and when I find out, I want to geek out with them about it.

Can you out some chefs for us? 

First of all, [Hugo's Restaurant's] Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley.

But, I mean, just look at them. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Yes, just look at them. And the Joe Beef boys in Montreal are constantly posting concert footage online. To me, one of the coolest things—and this is something only totally obsessed and nerdy people will do—is to know these other people like the same thing... And then you assume that because we have that in common that we are totally like best friends.

It's like if Barack Obama came out about loving Dungeons and Dragons. That would be huge for a lot of D&D people. That is what it is like for me to find out that [Joe Beef's] David McMillan loves the Grateful Dead.

Did you ever have the thing where… I used to work in restaurants where everyone in the kitchen got a shot at playing their own music. There was always the Bob Marley guy and the ex-convict who played hardcore…

The Blood for Blood guy.

Yeah! Yeah! Absolutely. Blood for Blood is the band for kitchens in the late 90s / early 2000s. 

This is totally off topic, but I recently saw a 2010 car with a [90s Boston hardcore band] Sam Black Church sticker on it. I was like, "Holy shit. Have you been holding on to that sticker for 10 years to slap on your new Accord?" Can you even buy a Sam Black Church sticker anymore? I used to have a Sam Black Church baseball cap that I stole from my sister because I thought it was really edgy.

On that note, what are you drinking? 

It is a Michelada. John Myers makes me one every Sunday morning at Eventide. His is different because it is beer accompanied with a shot of tequila. He also adds all of these great umami ingredients to make it refreshing and delicious. A Michelada is kind of like bloody mary mix and beer, traditionally served in a salt and chili rimmed glass. He adds maggi seasoning, which is this MSG liquid seasoning. He adds fish sauce, oyster brine... Jesus, what else is in there? He adds some ramp juice. He has added some Dashi, which is a Japanese seasoning. I don't even know what else is in there. Certainly some lime juice.

It is just this awesome amalgamation of ingredients. I love that it can be composed per the flavor of the guest. For mine, he makes it a little extra funky. I don't think tequila originally went in there, but it went hand-in-hand with what I am looking for in the drink. Ramp juice went in there because they have a lot on hand right now. You would think that it would be weird, but it adds this really pleasant bite to the drink. It adds a grassy note that wasn't there before. The drink is really refeshing and really boozy, which is perfect for me on a Sunday morning.

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the Spring of 2014. 

Shift Drinks: Hugh Fiore

Hugh Fiore is a bartender at Eastern Standard in Boston, Massachusetts. He is pictured with a glass of Buffalo Trace bourbon neat and a Narragansett. 

The bourbon and beer chaser is our most popular drink so far. 

That's because people who make cocktails don't drink cocktails.

Right. After a long night you're not like, "Uh, I'd like a fanciful beverage, please." 

Some people will come in at the very end of the night and get whatever… 7 daiquiris. I want a beer and I want a whiskey. There is this beautiful English bar [across the street from Eastern Standard] called Cornwall's… It's really a dive for college kids, but they're open until 2 ever day and they know all of us. I walk in there and I get a beer and a shot of Fernet and it's perfect. That's what I need. I can sit outside on their patio, have a beer, smoke a cigaret and just relax.

It's great that you say this because it is the first time that it has come up that for most in the industry shift drinks are really a utilitarian thing. 

It is the first way to relax after a shift. If I am lucky enough to be able to go out after my shift then I don't want something complicated. I want something smooth and fluid.

When did you become a bartender?

I have been a bartender since 2006. I started in Connecticut at this tiny little bar that had 8 seats. I knew nothing about the job but we squeezed fresh juice every day and we made our own syrups. Everything was really classically done. Margaritas were made with lime juice, sweetener and tequila because it was before the sour mix and powdered mix era. I started with this really great background of tradition. I did that there for a year and a half. I learned a lot through trial by fire.

Then I moved to Boston in 2007 and I was lucky enough to meet Jackson Cannon at Eastern Standard and he asked if I wanted a job. I was like, "Sure? Yes?" I was scared out of my wits. I have been there ever since.

What was that first 6 months there like?

It was very scary. I thought I was a pretty good bartender until I started working with Jackson and Bob McCoy and Nicole Lebedevitch and Kevin Martin and Tom Schlesinger, who is the GM at Island Creek now. They taught me more than I had ever thought I'd know, and they taught me not only about spirits and things like that but they also taught me about interactions with people and guests and the way to give people good service.

The one thing about working at Eastern Standard is that you are open every day — they are open for 363 days a year. You are always working and to deal with the amount of volume that we do provides the best learning curve. Between fancy dinners and baseball [Editors Note: Eastern Standard is virtually directly across the street from Fenway Park], you can't really go wrong.

What have you learned is most important when providing for guests a great experience? What is the best way to take care of people?

What is in this glass is not as important as how much fun someone on the other side of the bar is having. I always like to tell people that the drinks, the beer, the wine and the food — that's all free. What you're paying for is to be here and to be happy. You're paying for the experience. As long as you're having an enjoyable time, then I am doing my job. Mixing drinks is really fun, but I can make somebody just as happy pouring for them a beautiful glass of wine.

I have never heard it put that way. I really like that. 

"All of this was free, this bill is for the fun." [Laughs] "That was the most fun bottle of wine you've ever had, huh?" [Laughs]

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the April of 2014.

Shift Drinks: Leigh Kellis

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Leigh Kellis is the owner of and mastermind behind The Holy Donut, which has two locations in Portland, Maine. She is pictured here with a "perfect" Margarita.

Why did you select a margarita?

First and foremost, I find that tequila doesn't make me tired. After being in this business for a few years, I was finding that I needed the energy because of the early mornings. We're still in the business building phase, which is a twenty-four/seven schedule. I look forward to a glass of wine or beverage every single day of my life and I am not ashamed of that, but I find that wine makes me sleepy and I would get tired too early. I find that tequila is a little more enlivening than wine.

And depending who you are, tequila can be a relatively healthier alternative to the hospitality industry's other pick-me-up, so that's good.

Which is that?

I have heard, let's say, that it's cocaine.

Yeah, no. [Laughs] I have never done it. I eat donuts and drink coffee and alcohol and that's enough vices for me. I don't do drugs.

Whenever I go into your places, there is a full line, sometimes extending out the door. What is it about what you do that people are responding to?

That's a really good question. I have been trying to figure it out for a couple of years. We have had a spectacular reception to this business. I don't take that for granted. I am grateful for literally every person who comes through the line. I realize that this might not last forever. Yes, we have a good product, but there is also something very quirky about this place and I know that. This is not modern. We do not have cutting edge architecture in here. We have old tables and my friend's art is on the walls. My dad built the tables. It is completely quirky. I think people are receptive to that. We are friendly, we play good music, it is a family business and the food tastes good. That is not something I want to lose in replication when opening multiple locations.

But it certainly extends to the product, which is transcendent. We had the guys from Quoddy shoes in our studio and so we had your donuts there for them to munch on. They were ecstatic. They insisted on taking Instagram shots juxtaposed against the Holy Donut box.

It is amazing. It blows my mind. It is still amazing when people say they heard about us wherever and that they're going to come and see us when they come to Maine. What is it about a donut shop? I think people associate it with their grandmothers, or something about their lives that is not treacherous. It is positive.

When I was a kid, I used to go to shops like this when I would visit my family in Massachusetts. Even the corporate shops were more like this back then, with bigger donuts. Then they all went through a couple decades of downsizing and private equity buyouts and the products and shops themselves suffered. Yours is an alternative to the corporate donut.

You talked a lot about perfection when we talked beforehand. You asked for a perfect margarita and you said that you aspire toward perfection. Why is that something that is important to you?

Anybody can come and open a donut shop in this town and they probably will. I feel like you have to stay right on the ball with your product in this town. If it slips even a little bit, people love to tell you. I have worked at so many restaurants in my life. I started at 15 and pretty much have always been in the hospitality industry. I am 39, so it has been 24 years. People love to complain, but fortunately we get mostly positive responses. And it is kind of hard to screw up a donut completely, so we have that on our side. But I don't give anyone fodder. I want to keep it delicious and always improving.

Shift Drinks: Stephen Lanzalotta

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Stephen Lanzalotta is Executive Chef at Slab Sicilian Street Food. He is famous for his Sicilian pizza, which he used to bake for Micucci Grocery Store, and at Sophia's, his own bakery, before that. He is pictured here with a Bulleit Bourbon neat and an orange wheel, which he chose to symbolize his love for the marriage between American fixtures (bourbon) with Sicilian cuisine (citrus). 

Tell me about your beverage. 

I picked Bulleit Bourbon and an orange wheel, which is inspired by the crossover thing I like doing with Sicilian and American food.

Are you a bourbon drinker at all? 

I don't drink it straight. I love the flavor, though. I don't do shots of it. Maybe I should start doing that! [Laughs]

Your goal is to marry American and Sicilian flavors?

Exactly. The goal is to give a point of recognition. Sicily is really not a part of italy. Physically and geographically they are a separate island, but they are also a completely different culture. It is more of an Arabic, African, Middle Eastern culture, which is really foreign to the Italian mainland. It's got some flavors, textures and juxtapositions of things that are not expected in mainland Italian cuisine. So it is going to be really different and refreshing and hopefully give a taste of the tropics in Maine, which we all kind of love and admire. Part of the way to get across that exotic and different experience is to give a little taste of American accessibility.

For instance, the cannoli [we are planning to serve at Slab] is going to be served in an ice cream cone instead of laid flat in a cannoli shell and so you have that Americanization. You have that bourbon chocolate filling. People can say, "I know enough about that so I am willing to try it" as opposed to "Gosh, that sounds like a scary name…" I really want to get the average Joe—the guy in fishing boots who I used to have come into my [former restaurant / bakery] Sophia's—to come in and sit next to the attorney in the thousand dollar Armani suit, who is next to the pregnant woman. I want that kind of demographic where it is all over the board and it feels very comfortable and accessible. I want a huge spread so that it doesn't alienate anyone. That is what I found works throughout the years. Give some little piece, either in the name or the ingredient where someone thinks, "This is not foreign to me. I like this. I am willing to try this new food or new combination."

How did food come into your life? 

I started—believe it or not—when I was 4-years-old. I was tutored by Mohican Indians down in the Thames River Valley in Connecticut. That started very early where I was learning about wild culture. I became a survivalist off of that and began to eat really strong flavors and learned how to integrate that into cooking. By the age of 13, I got my first introduction to an actual kitchen when I became a commercial line chef for my uncle. At 13 I had good beard growth and so I looked older and I could pass as 16, or whatever was legally employable at that time. I was doing a beach shack for him where I was serving burgers and ice cream and stuff like that down on Crescent Beach in East Lyme, Connecticut.

So it was that kind of thing. I started from the ground up with wild foods and then American fast food. Those two things became the core of my culinary experience as I went on. You can see it here now. I love accessible street food. I love fun, conviviality, and people mixing together without pretense. You get that burger joint idea mixed with sophisticated things. You know, "Gee? There are crushed juniper berries in this coleslaw?" That's my culinary background. I have absolutely no professional experience and everything I have done is self-taught. I worked for my uncle for a number of years and then building my own places. That's how it was.

What about baking specifically? 

The way I got into baking was crazy. My ex-wife—my wife at the time—and I had moved to Maine to get back to the land. I built a house out of the trees of the land, cut the Spruce logs down and built a log house. I built all of the furniture. While I was doing this incredible endeavor I needed some carb sustenance so I would make these big piles to burn off the Spruce and when it would get down to ash, I would make very crude breads by burying it in that ash.

In the neighborhood I was living, they were all back-to-the-landers. They had a whole community there and I was invited every Wednesday to go to their potluck dinners. These guys were way more sophisticated that I was. They had farms that were established for years and they knew how to ferment beverages. The only thing I had to bring was this ash bread. Curiously enough, it was the one piece of their dinners that had not been fulfilled. They encouraged me to keep baking and growing. As I got my house finished, I had built a small brick oven. I started baking loaves to bring to these potluck dinners. The dinners were open to the public and there was more than just the farming community coming and it got to the point where I would go to the potluck dinner on a Wednesday and I would have an order for 6 or 8 loaves of bread to sell. I started supporting my family little by little as a baker.

My reputation became so great that our house became inundated with people crossing the bridge to come for the bread so I found a place to set up. I found a local market that I could rent out at night to use their oven facility. It was tiny. I probably had 16 square feet of work space and a little Blodgett oven. I would load these 1x12 boards into my station wagon and work up this scaffolding system to support the breads at different stages of their development. I would drive back home, pick up my kids in the morning, then go on delivery rounds. It was a crazy cycle, but I got quite a reputation. It got to the point where I got local investors to back me and I was able to start a proper bakery on my own really out of community demand, though it was first out of family need. People noticed that these breads tasted really different or authentic, or they were getting flavors off of the breads that they weren't getting elsewhere.

That's the way it grew, really from the ground up. We really dug in the ground!

So why the specific focus on Sicilian? 

Sicilian cuisine really fascinates me because the food is their legacy. Their cultural offering is their food. What they have to offer is that conviviality on the street. Their lives have been trafficked over so many times by so many different cultures that their main storage of hereditary information is in their food, their traditions. Meeting a guy on the street and sharing a sandwich and an espresso or a shot of booze… it is all shared that way. The mother-to-daughter transfer of information and bonding is done through cuisine so that was meaningful to me, as well as the exotic nature of the spices. Sicily—because it was occupied by Moors, Saracens, Arabs for so long—has all of this exoticism. There is cumin and caraway, things like that and in the rest of Italy that is just not present. You can be thinking you're eating Croatian food or Moroccan or Indonesian and you'll be in Sicily. Sicily has curry! It has curry authentically. It is part of some of their culture. You don't find that on the mainland anywhere.

I cut for myself a boundary, which I have always enjoyed doing in life. I like creating for myself limits. I say, "This is how far I am going to go, now how deep can I go into that experience?" That is what I love about Sicily. I can go back thousands of years and extricate all of these spices, nuances, and stuff like that and in doing so, I keep myself very well occupied.

NOTE: This interview originally ran in Spring of 2014.