Meet SCGP Café’s chef Paolo Fontana at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Co. hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli. He’ll be heading out east from Stony Brook for the July 22 event in Mecox.
How old were you when you knew that you’d have a career in food?
[I was] 18 years old. On my drive up to culinary school, on the weekend before school started. I wanted nothing more than to wear the uniform and learn everything. I went to school during a very special time, and my classmates were, and are, superstars. I was surrounded by the best, and it was the best drug in the world. Still is.
Why should consumers seek out local produce and wine?
You are getting something at its peak readiness, and allowing that person who prepared or grew that item the opportunity to do it better for you the next time you buy something from them.
Would you agree that chefs and farmers have a lot in common in that both are a little crazy and overworked?
Yes—unless you are living the life, no one really understands what it takes to do what we do, at the level and pace we need to do it.
What crop could local farmers grow that you would be excited to use?
Wild Herbs, volunteer herbs, herbs that are not forced to grow somewhere. Herbs whose seed flew off last year and made its way somewhere it wasn’t supposed to, but found a way to grow.
If I got a tattoo tomorrow it would depict: a Post-it note with a corner semi rolled up, like the ones surrounding my desk right now. I would get it on my forearm, in bright highlighter green, and I could write down important things on it every day, like “Breathe.”
Tell us about the best thing you’ve ever eaten.
Warm semolina bread and fresh, still-moving sea urchins. My father would bring home a bushel of sea urchin, and loaves of warm bread on Christmas Eve. He would cut the urchin in half, and we would scoop out the insides with a piece of warm bread.
What do you have in your pantry that would make another food pro jealous?
Ronnybrook heavy cream
I could create a fine meal with just these five ingredients: flour, water, salt, yeast, tomatoes.
What are you most looking forward to about being a part of Dan’s Taste of Two Forks?
Seeing my staff have a great time and getting that much needed change of scenery.
For tickets and information on all Dan’s Taste of Summer events, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.