“Nuts and dried fruits add the extra love to cuisine”.
You were recognized with the INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy during our Congress. Would you ever have imagined receiving such an accolade from the nut and dried fruit industry?
I did not anticipate that at all. When I got the news, I started to read a little bit of history of the INC and I was immediately excited about the honor.
Once you knew that Boca Raton Resort & Club would hold the INC World Congress, attracting the whole nut and dried fruit industry, what thoughts came to your mind?
The first thing that a chef needs do before a challenge like this is understand that we would have so many countries represented here. Once you truly start to comprehend the magnitude of an event like this is when different levels of energy and excitement come to you.
Is it a challenge to have so many people from around the world here?
It is, but with experience and having travelled around the world, you come to understand that there is a common denominator among all countries and cultures: food.
So, food is a type of language?
It is more than a language. We don’t have to have the same vocabulary, religion or culture but at the end of the day, when we sit down at the table, we are all the same. Food is the common denominator that brings everyone together. You break bread together; you are friends forever.
What are the main differences between being chef in a restaurant compared to a resort?
There should be no difference. Here at the resort we have 13 different restaurants and each one of those has a different theme. When you look at food as a whole, and not necessarily as a separate entity, you are able to take the strong points from restaurants and then apply them to a large event for six or seven hundred people. And vice versa, how do you take something that we have done at large events, make it special and put it into one of the restaurants? If you can balance both of those by having creativity, talent and understanding the depth behind it, you can execute both of those simultaneously at the same level of quality. That’s the key.
In your opinion, what are the best qualities nuts and dried fruits can add to your cuisine?
This was probably one of the main reasons that I got excited when I found out we were hosting this event. To a chef, deep down and above so many different components of food, there is always going to be that extra depth and extra touch. That’s what adds what we call the extra love to everything we do, and nuts and dried fruits are one of the major components that allows us to add that to our cuisine.
And what is the nut or dried fruit that is never missing in your kitchen?
That’s not fair! It’s like asking who is your favorite child. But personally, I’m a cashew lover… and pistachios come close.