Chef: Laura Bonino
Restaurant: Griffin Market
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Italian food?
The biggest misconception about Italian food is that it exists. There is no such thing as Italian food. Each region had its own traditional cuisine passed down for centuries before Italy became a unified country. In fact, the dishes can vary from village to village. At Griffin Market, we prepare Piedmontese food because (my husband) Riccardo is from a town in Piedmont, but even saying Piedmontese isn't specific enough. My focus is on dishes you would find in Langhe, where Barolo wine comes from.
How did it feel to have Pat Conroy write a glowing review of your cooking?
Before we ever opened Griffin Market, I dreamed that Pat Conroy would come to eat and enjoy my food. I knew he had lived in Rome for a few years and was an accomplished cook, so his opinion was valuable to me. The fabulous review and his continuing support -- he's eaten with us more than 100 times -- have been beyond anything I dared expect. He isn't just a supporter, he is our champion.
What is the most difficult dish you know how to make from scratch?
Tortellini in Brodo is the most difficult dish I have learned and make well. Like most truly great dishes, it depends on only a few simple ingredients. The great flavor comes from how those ingredients are handled. There are many steps that cannot be rushed, and this dish takes three days to get right. I only serve it to people I love and maybe for our Piedmontese Christmas dinner at Griffin Market.
Are there any foods you absolutely hate?
I can't think of any food I truly hate. To me all food has the potential to be good. There are, however, some foods that have to be coaxed, or even wrestled into becoming delicious. Tripe is a good example.
If you could only eat one type of pasta for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
Ordinary spaghetti -- hopefully a Bronze-die extruded spaghetti. Spaghetti is the most versatile of the pasta shapes and not only tastes great with many sauces from Italy, it also can be substituted for the noodles used in many other cuisines.
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPGB_ErinShaw.