Three adjectives to define yourself
Curious, intuitive, post-modernist
Your favourite Italian dish.
My two favorite Italian dishes are also my two favorite dishes from my childhood in America: pizza and gelato.
It’s weird to say, but those three years living in Italy also taught me to connect my love for those simple, now-international dishes to their history (and to my own story).
In my time there I was able to study (and eat!) so many versions of pizza.
With gelato, the difference in texture from North to South was dramatic, and the regional specificity and seasonality (of this product which at its core was designed for preservation) of the flavors really stuck out.
Pizza and gelato are products with an essential nature and a deceptive simplicity that provides for so much innovation and exploration and creativity.
To me, it is this simplicity and this essential-ness that makes these products such perfect vehicles for storytelling, for evoking emotions, for settling in your memory, for appearing in dreams.
What is your background?
I was born in New York to a family of musicians with Irish and Italian heritage.
After getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and Gender Studies +, I finally moved to New York for good and quickly fell into a successful career designing websites and other marketing materials for Broadway shows.
Roughly 10 years into that career, I started to get restless and lost the emotional connection to my work.
On a trip to Russia, I rediscovered that emotional connection in a simple slice of black bread and some thick slices of salo (a cured pork product similar to the Italian lardo) and that experience led me to discover ALMA’s Italian Culinary Program.
Six months later, I moved to Italy with no plans to return to the US.
What did the experience at ALMA represent for you?
What is ALMA for you?
The experience at ALMA was, for me, a new beginning.
But it also represented a chance to re-connect to my past, to my family origins, and to my own internal motivations and dreams.
ALMA is so much more than a school – it’s a way of life and a way of seeing and being in the world. It is a place filled to the brim with true professionals—with cooking at the highest level, certainly, but also with thinking, creating, and connecting.
And ALMA is also “home” in the emotional sense. A place where you feel safe, and seen, and challenged, and known.
Where there are shared ideals and values, but where one’s individuality is supported and celebrated.
Tell us about your traineeship phase experience during the ICP course.
I had the amazing opportunity to stage at Ristorante Sotto L’Arco in Borgo Panigale, under Chef Alessandro Panichi, a Ligurian chef who adopted Bologna as his home.
It is a small, fine-dining restaurant located in an historical villa producing cuisine of a very high level in a small kitchen with a very small, talented kitchen team.
This stage was in fact my first time working in a restaurant kitchen in my life, and I was so fortunate to be able to see every aspect of the work. It’s there that I made bread for the first time in my life.
What would you recommend to ALMA ICP students starting their career in the industry as Italian culinary specialist?
To remember the philosophy of Italian cuisine but understand how it fits where you live – to find connections between your own story and history and culture. Most importantly, though, to never stop researching and testing and learning. Find the aspects that most resonate with you and delve deeper, go back further. Ask questions, take chances.
What are your future projects?
As Head Baker for Eataly NYC, I’m extremely invested in continuing to improve the team and the quality of products, develop new recipes and train new managers.
I’m always looking for ways to teach and tell stories, and long-term I would love to make teaching, research, recipe-development, and consulting a much bigger part of my work. I made a somewhat provocative statement: “No one eats grissini.”
I meant that grissini – and indeed most bread – is so often not eaten with intention, but rather is consumed absentmindedly while waiting for the main course, or as a simple vehicle for other “more important” ingredients.
My project for the future, fundamentally, is to change this.
How exactly? Stay tuned.