Apr 26, 2012|
I’m glad I went to college because learning about liberal arts is as important as learning about cooking. But when I graduated, I realized I didn’t want to be a business person in the traditional sense, so I went to work at a pizzeria first, then I went to Cordon Bleu, and I dropped out. I felt I was too fast and too smart. Stupid youth. Idiocy of youth is why I dropped out. I should’ve stayed, and my advice to everybody is: finish what you start.
I worked for a series of slave-driving French guys who taught me to love food, but that there might be something better than being yelled at all of my life. That kind of treatment that was in the kitchens in the 80s has changed. Because now the chef wannabes are far more sophisticated, far better educated, so you can’t just treat them like animals and push them around and hit them. So it’s nice that things
When I started cooking, cooking was the kind of job [you took] after you got out of the military and before you went to jail. Because it was the lowest common denominator. Now cooking has been elevated to what’s considered an art form. And people really appreciate the work of cooks.
Naples pizza tends to be a little wetter. They use mozzarella di buffalo, which has a higher water content, so when it comes out to the table, if you don’t have the patience—which I don’t—to wait five or ten minutes before you eat it, you pick it up and everything slides off. The Roman pizza’s generally a little harder, a little less saucy, a little less wet. [There’s] not a lot of condiments and sauce, which is surprising to a lot of people. We want the taste and flavor of the wheat, like the grain taste, [that’s] what we’re looking for.
Each [one of my establishments] has a chef that’s my partner. They’ve worked with me at some point, they own a small percentage sometimes, and sometimes a bigger percentage. We always keep them involved so they understand how to manage it like an operator and an owner, not just like an employee. I love every one of [my establishments] equally. Just like children.
Check out Mario Batali’s Lupa at 3/F, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2796-6500.