I thought this would be a great way to get to know a small business. I have known Gerry from Graziano’s Catering for a few years now. Besides being a wonderful human being, he is also wonderful with Italian food.
Here we go:
What is your muse? What inspires you to come up with new menu items? I just think of flavours that I have experienced and think of other ways to apply them. A lot of my influence came from two trips to Italy, albeit 16 years apart. I was amazed at the freshness of everything, but also the simplicity. Italians love to grill, but they don’t rely on heavy sauces for the meats. Just fresh quality cuts, oil and a variety of spices and herbs.
What did you eat for dinner last night? A few of us from Twitter that had never met, got together at Lingnan for a fabulous dinner and fun conversation. It was lighthearted and fun and a testament to what can happen when people use Twitter for good and not evil. Plus it’s always nice when you can express yourself directly to people using more than 140 characters.
What is your favourite place in Edmonton to eat when you are not cooking? Piccolinos Bistro, Famoso, Lingnan
What is your most favourite ingredient to work with? Prosciutto
What is your favourite charity event that you do? I have spent a lot of time working with Ronald McDonald House and their “Meals That Mend” program. If you have never been, it really is a heart warming experience. The thing I take away the most is that I can instantly see the impact a few hours of my time makes on so many people. A home made meal to a family coping with a sick child in hospital is much more powerful than people may realize.
What can Graziano Catering fans expect from you in the next year or so? I’m taking my time and planning things out. This industry can be unforgiving and one wrong move can sink you. For now, lessons, hopefully more pop ups and of course always available for caterings.
Tell me a bit about your in home cooking classes. These are something I have wanted to start for a while. Basically it’s meant to be a fun 3-4 hours, in your home with me and just making some sauces and fresh pasta. Eventually I want to incorporate a few other cooking lessons with meats or desserts. For some, they may have no idea where to begin, for others it’s a refresher. A few months before the wonderful Gail Hall passed away, we had a great conversation about her experiences. She told me, there comes a point when it’s okay to share what you have learned with others. I just feel like that time has come.
First word that comes to mind when I say foodie? Frienemy
Last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in? Florence, Italy
If you weren’t cooking for a living, what would you be doing? Probably working in the Radio/TV industry
What did you want to be when growing up? In order, Fireman, Chef, Sportscaster, NHL Linesman
If you left Edmonton to cook somewhere else, where would you go? Florence, Italy or Vancouver, BC
Most embarrassing cooking moment? Sometimes, you get busy and attention to details are missed. I got a call from a school wondering if I was on the way with their hot school lunch order. I thought it was the following Monday. Needless to say, I had to scramble. I bought pizza for 125 kids, and apologized profusely. That school still does business with me to this day. Here’s a tip kids, if you make a mistake, own the hell out of it. Things can still work out.
Person you would most like to cook for? All of my family back in Italy. One huge family dinner starts around 8pm ends around midnight.
What project are you most excited about right now? The Graziano Sunday Dinner. This will give me a chance to cook for people in a manner I haven’t been able to do before, at least not on such a large scale. When i had my cafe, we were busy and pumping out a lot of tasty lunches. This dinner is much different and at a higher skill set. I am loving the challenge it will present to me.
Do you have any pet peeves? People that don’t courtesy wave in cars.
What’s your karaoke song? “Ain’t That a Kick In The Head” by Dean Martin
What do you like to do when you aren’t in the kitchen? I just like to unwind, and relax with a great cigar, some Port and listening to some old school jazz.
What is your favourite sports team? Being a born and raised BC boy, as unpopular as this will be in Edmonton, I’d have to say the Vancouver Canucks. However, I’ve always thought of the Oilers as my step son. So they’re a very close second.
If you had $10,000 how would you spend it? I will be cliche like so many chefs on cooking shows and say, I would take my family on a much needed vacation.
Speaking of which, Gerry has “The Graziano Sunday Dinner” coming up on May 28th. This is a pop up style event taking place at Privada Wine and Tapas in St. Albert. Tickets are a mere $50 per person for a wonderful meal featuring Effing Seafood and local Piedmontese Beef. I would love it if you could join us! Tickets will sell fast, and must be purchased before May 19.