Many people know that my husband is a chef. A GREAT ONE! Well, at least I think so….and the people lucky enough to eat his food. He has worked all over. He studied in Italy, Turkey and England. He has the greatest mentors ever! Both women who are strong and gifted beyond belief. His first mentor was Ana Sortun, who is the genius behind Oleana Restaurant and Sofra Cafe and Bakery in Cambridge. (I took that photo of her on the link!) Classically trained in French Cuisine, she has taken that to new heights by using her French style and marrying it with Northern Mediterranean. Think Turkish, Greek, North African, etc. AMAZING! I love it there so much that I actually ate while I was in active labor with my 2nd baby. I swear! Shit, it’s hard to get a table there, and I wasn’t giving that up. Ana gave Rob the foundation to make him a really great chef. He was young when he worked there and had limited experience. Eventually, with Ana’s help, he traveled alone to London to work at the White Onion. From there he moved on to Tuscany to the most magical place on earth, Montevarchi. This small town is about a 30 minute train ride from Florence that is TOTALLY worth the trip. There are only 3 taxi in the town as well as a gelato store, an olive oil grove, the Prada Outlet (YES you heard me right, PRADA OUTLET…of course I’ve been there, are you insane?) and the restaurant at the top of the mountain that my husband worked in for about 3 weeks called Osteria Del Rendola. It was amazing. From there he moved on to Istanbul and stayed with my friend Kirsten, where he studied with Ana’s mentor. It was life changing for him. Then he moved to Los Angeles to be with me. That’s when he met Suzanne Goin. That’s when everything changed. My husband went from a really good chef to an amazing one.
Rob worked with Suzanne Goin, where he did what almost every chef has to do when they start over…whatever needs to be done in the kitchen. And as my best friend Dari says, “if there’s a hell they are chopping vegetables there”. And so chop he did. Until he was working the line. And then he was her Sous and from there, Suzanne went from one restaurant to two, and asked Rob to take over her baby, Lucques, while she opened up her new spot A.O.C. My husband was now the chef for one of the hottest restaurants in LA and worked for the greatest group of women I have ever known. They were our family while living there. We got married at Lucques! And Suzanne along with all of the staff made my husband who he is today.
On our 3rd anniversary, Rob and I decided to take a mini vacation and get a really kick ass room on the beach in Santa Monica. While we were there, Rob looked troubled. When I asked him what was wrong he replied, “Running a restaurant has always been my dream but in reality it’s a nightmare. I have no life. What will we do when we have kids? I will NEVER see you or them.” I asked him what he wanted to do about it and he stated he was thinking of getting into the biz of being a private chef. So on our way home from our hotel stay we stopped at an agency that represents chefs. We were told that the really big private gigs were like winning the lottery but if you can land one, it can be the job of a lifetime. Some private chefs can literally cut their hours in half compared to working in a restaurant and double their salaries. We left feeling defeated. They didn’t have anything for him. But I said, “Hey you never know. Don’t worry, you will find something before we have kids” Little did I know I got pregnant the night before!
About two months later, Rob’s lottery ticket came in and he landed one of the most coveted personal chef jobs in all of Los Angeles. Now I can’t tell you who it was for you I would have to kill you. 😉 But it was great. He was home so much more, less stressed out and was still able to create amazing food for these people because they were serious foodies. And the best part is that being a private chef helped my husband land his amazing private gig her in Boston, so we were finally able to move back East! So here we are with our two sons loving life.
Being a private chef is great, according to my husband, but in order to keep his mojo fluid, he dines out a lot, tries to work the line at Oleana and other spots, when he has time off and yes…he cooks at home! And when it snows…FUGETABOUTIT! He bakes like mad. And guess what? I take photos. Our big dream? Well, we want to buy a crappy little cape in our neighborhood and gut it. Then we want to build a home where the entire first floor is nothing but a big kitchen. We want to provide cooking classes, food photography classes as well as other photo workshops. There are so many ideas in our brain surrounding this, we feel like we are going to explode. Hopefully we can bring this idea to fruition sooner rather than later.
I promise to post more of the food photo collaboration that we do this year. Here are some images I took for a magazine that was publishing his recipe for Ricotta cookies. He makes these for his boss’s wife who is gluten free. I have provided you guys with the regular recipe as well as the GF one. Enjoy!
Rob’s Ricotta Cookies
1 lb ricotta, room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar
4 oz. smart balance, room temp.
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 egg, room temp
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 c. of powder sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons of milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For Gluten Free substitute flour with
1 ¼ cup brown rice mix
¼ cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a kitchen aid fitted with a paddle whip Smart Balance, ricotta and sugar until light and fluffy 2-4 minutes. Add egg and almond extract mix until incorporated. Sift dry ingredients and fold in threes.
Pour batter onto to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and bake for 8-12 minutes. Turn them after baking for 8 minutes then turn the cookie sheet around and bake for 2-4 minutes more.
For glaze, whisk all ingredients until thick. You might only need 1 tbl. of milk. I usually dunk the tops of the cookies in the glaze pull them out garnish with sliced almonds and let harden on a cooling rack. Good luck!!!