This March we are celebrating National Nutrition Month® by exploring the cultural eating traditions of the Mediterranean. Hear how some of our top chefs got to where they are today and what they think about the Mediterranean lifestyle.
How did you get your start in the culinary world?
Growing up with an Italian family (don’t let the last name fool you!) we ate fresh cooked meals and lots from the garden, preserved and pickled as well. Fresh pastas, sauces and delicious cheese. I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother from Naples. I didn’t try American cheese or ranch dressing until I was a teenager so these were the foreign staples to me having not grown up with them.
Where do you find inspiration for cooking?
Social media, cooking programs, traveling to experience different cultures and of course living in NYC – such a food obsessed city to constantly discover new foods and of course the seasonal farmers market is always inspiring.
How do you think a Mediterranean cuisine fits into a healthy eating style?
The freshness and lightness of the food with plenty of plant based options, olive oil and lemon juice along with fresh herbs for pops of flavor. The influences from all of the different cultures along the Mediterranean Sea.
Do you have any practical tips for beginners in the kitchen?
Start with the cooking techniques and the way that meals are built around the different flavors and textures.
What is your favorite Mediterranean dish and why?
I am obsessed with freshly prepared hummus and the way different chefs season and prepare this dish (amounts of tahini paste, cumin. Lemon juice, etc.) The lighter and creamier the better!
Bio: CIA Graduate, trained chef and restaurant consultant who developed and opened over 100 restaurants from NYC, Boston, LA, Maui and more. Headlined multiple cooking events at the James Beard Foundation House and former NYC owner of Chow Bar, a Pan Asian restaurant, for 10 years. Director of Culinary Development at CulinArt Group celebrating 6 years this month. Working with the NYC Department of Education’s Vision Services, The Lighthouse Guild and CulinArt introducing a job experience program for visually impaired HS students.