Chef you are celebrating 20 years on television, with 13 cook books and travel around the world to educate food lovers everywhere. It is hard work so what fuels your passion?
Chef Stellino: It gives me great pleasure to share my knowledge with the world, teaching about good food and breaking it down so that everyone can grasp the concept of action and reaction in cooking, then making it their own not just someone else’s recipe. To know that I have touched millions of people and explained how ingredients come together to make a dish work together is my passion.
Beaux Se`jours: Not all olive oils are created equal. What do you look for in fine oil?
Chef Stellino: There are so many fine oils and I use about six different types depending on the dish as some of the heavier olive oils can take over the flavor of what you are preparing.
Light extra virgin is great for dipping with bread and extra virgin oils are delicious over uncooked foods and salads.
My uncle’s is my favorite olive oil for tasting
Beaux Se`jours: Today’s family is always on the go what would be your recommendation for a quick and healthful dinner together?
Chef Stellino: Salads are great especially now with the warm weather but not just using one plain lettuce instead using a variety of greens with flavor such as radicchio and arugula and a flavorful fresh herb base. Add cheese and bacon then dress it in extra virgin oil and balsamic vinegar. It is delicious and easily digested.
Beaux Sejours: For new cooks choosing the right ingredients for a dish can be daunting any pointers?
Chef Stellino: Yes, you will make mistakes and anything can go wrong but there are opportunities in every mistake so change the course and try the recipe differently to fit your tastes.
Beaux Se`jours: To me Italian food is comfort. What are a few of your favorite comfort foods?
Chef Stellino: Pasta, Risotto and Pizza across the board. In the winter months I love stews they make me smile! Veal and pork are my favorites. Soups such as Minestrone, pasta fagioli, bread soup these warm the soul!
Beaux Se`jours: Your menus are like symphonies to the palate. What menu would you create for friends and family?
Chef Stellino: Well I am a seasonal cook and I don’t know what I am making until I go the market that day for inspiration, my friends will come over and say “you have nothing in the fridge”!. That is because I shop for fresh ingredients, what great way to create a fabulous meal using the finest products available.
Beaux Se`jours: Chef you are a perfectionist not only in the kitchen but in all that you do in life. Do you have any advice for young people just breaking in to the culinary field?
Chef Stellino: Yes! Before you commit to that amount of time and money to a very difficult business first do an internship where you will be hands on everywhere. You need to see and feel the motion and flow of a restaurant as well as tending to food and how to treat customers and then decide if you are cut out for that career. There are also many other paths to take in the food industry, such as developing recipes, private dining and catering.
Beaux Se`jours: Your Cooking with Friends Series had to be a blast! What can you share with us about that experience?
Chef Stellino: Every chef has his own natural imprint on cooking and talking about it, but it is very special when two chefs come together to connect and share the same love of food, it becomes second nature and that connection makes them happy! It was a real honor and a lot of fun to see everyone move around the kitchen effortlessly and to connect with all of them. It was a very special time in my career and I am grateful for that opportunity!
Beaux Se`jours: I understand you are a great story teller is that your Italian heritage’s influence?
Ah yes Italians can’t keep quiet. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone! You can go to my Facebook page and there is a short video of me and my friends meeting for dinner in NYC’s oldest restaurant Emilio’s Ballato and you can see for yourself how stories evolve.
Beaux Se`jours: when you are not working what do you enjoy for relaxation?
I love designing my clothes,making sure the measurements are so perfect I could sleep in the suit then send the design to my tailor and when I get the finished product I wear it almost immediately to make sure that it is absolutely comfortable! I love color and I like to wear prints and you can see some of my designs on pintrest.
If it weren’t for this career I would have probably been in the clothing design and tailoring
Beaux Se`jours: If you could dine with one person from history who would that be?
Chef Stellino: Camillo Benso di Cavour he forged the unification of Italy which was an enormous undertaking. I would like to sit down with him over a glass of wine and say “what were you thinking and how did you conceive this idea”? Fascinating!
Beaux Sojourns: Do you have an upcoming project in the near future that you can tell our readers about?
Chef Stellino: My 20th Anniversary Television Series on Create TV which we are working on and will be airing in April