Eating out is different than it was ten years ago and the same will be said ten years from now. What won’t change is the transformative power of food to stir emotion.
Growing up the son of a truck driver and former farmer, I knew nothing of fine dining. What I did know, thanks to my father, was a deep appreciation for food. When he gathered the family at the table it was a cultural and educational act intended to express love and care for each other. I started cooking at home as a kid. I’d make dinner for my sister and anxiously await her approval—I learned food was a way of making people happy and communicating that they mattered. Despite our humble surroundings, we felt rich in spirit when we ate together.
When I was 14 I started my culinary career to help support my family. I learned under Gualtieri Marchesi, the first Italian chef to win three Michelin stars for his restaurant on Via Bonvesin de la Riva in Milan and the founder of modern Italian cuisine. I discovered the craft of fine dining and building extraordinary experiences for guests. I remember the endless kitchen work and the meticulous attention to detail; the hard-working service team that set the dining room painstakingly and perfectly orchestrated service as if it were a ballet; the research that went into creating a wine list, choosing the right the fresh flowers for decor and the warm welcome guests received—it was all magic to me and I fell in love.
In the very modern world, where human interaction and social skills are becoming things of the past, fine dining as an emotional and interactive experience is more important than ever because it reminds us that we are worth being nurtured and that there is value in the craft of making of that experience the best that it can be.
It is a challenging but exciting time to be a chef. We have to work harder than ever and continue to develop and evolve constantly to remain on the cutting edge. We must try new techniques, source new, even rare, ingredients, and create show-stopping presentations. We must do this day in and day out, rain or shine, despite the economic and political uncertainty. But I love what I do because it allows me to witness the happiest moments of our guests’ lives. I never take that honor and trust for granted and will always strive to make these moments special, just like my father did for me.
“Fine dining as an emotional and interactive experience is more important than ever.” –Fabio Trabocchi