Friday - August 10, 2011 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Title: Owner, Flavors of Italy, a foodwine import company
Where were you born and raised? Alorobello, Puglia, Italy.
You grew up surrounded by an incredible food culture. Did everybody cook in your family? Yes, of course. Everybody cooked. My grandmother still cooks every day. She makes cheese and bakes.
Did you start cooking early? Yes. Always on Sundays I was in charge of the antipasto for our family meal. I would make all the antipasto while my grandmother made the bread and sauces and all the incredible food we ate.
I remember you telling me your uncles would shout out to you when you were just a little boy, “Hey Donato, you gonna be a chef?” Yes, and I would tell them always, “Yes, I am gonna be a chef.”
How are the rest of us doing in our appreciation of Italian food?
Much better! (laughs). When I first came here 20 years ago, people were still eating only tomato sauce with spaghetti. I thought it would take about 10 years for people to appreciate ethnic foods from our side of the Mediterranean. I was off by about 10 years, but now it’s pretty good.
A typical Sunday dinner at your house? Last Sunday we had fresh mozzarella with a puttanesca sauce baked in a terra cotta pot with freshly made bread; grilled asparagus with cream sauce and truffles, and also with tomatoes and red onions and balsamic; homemade orecchiette and gnocchi, kobe beef, shrimp, lots of vegetables and, of course, a lot of good wine.
What’s always in your fridge? What isn’t! That’s the question. Fresh vegetables from the farmers market, prosciutto, my grandmother’s homemade cheese in fact, a dozen varieties of cheese and sliced fresh truffles in olive oil.
You’re a tough critic. Where do you like to eat? The only place I go is to Le Bistro. Alan Takasaki and I are very much alike, although you might not think so. I love to sit down with some good wine and enjoy his food. I drive very far to go to dinner at Le Bistro.
With whom would you most like to have dinner? Pope John Paul II. I would love to have cooked for him. He not only enjoyed food, he was a great, great man.
Are you ever going to open another restaurant? No. Never. I am never going to open another restaurant ever ... But who knows?
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