A conversation with Solenne Païdassi
I’m still coming down from the summer– Schoenberg, Shostakovich, “The Jury,” everything and everyone who turned up
I started cooking in grad school when I procured a copy of Marcella Hazan’s “Classic Italian Cookbook.” Like many other aspiring chefs, it soon became my bible, the pages covered with careful notes in pencil between splats of olive oil. Diligently following the directions, I was dangerous enough to consider myself a decent cook until I started eating regularly at my Neapolitan in-laws’ house and the realization dawned on me that I had a lot to learn.
I’ve been fortunate to travel often to Italy for work and family, and at some point I began to talk to cooks in restaurants and learn from friends who were happy to let me observe in the kitchen. It was a proud day when I graduated from my mother-in-law politely pushing the food around the plate to her actually looking forward to a dinner I prepared.
I’ve always been an italofilo: studied the language in university, lived and worked there, have two daughters with Italian passports. Part of the appeal is in the simplicity of Italian food: a handful of fresh ingredients assembled lovingly - at its best it is good, hardy peasant fare.
When cooking, I listen to music or Richard, Lionel, and Daniel at the Cycling Podcast (https://thecyclingpodcast.com). For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d propose six courses of easy-to-prepare Italian regional cuisine with a string quartet curated to match each dish. As a bonus, Phil Kass – violist, master instrument appraiser, oenologist extraordinaire – has paired wine with each course.
David Yang, Artistic Director