The evolution of epicurean expression that is Massimo Navarretta has taken many beautiful forms along the more than 30 year journey. Along the way, I’ve been fortunate enough to express myself with restaurants like Enoteca, Scampi, and now Onotria. Growing up on a farm in the vibrant agricultural Italian town of Caserta I stay true to my roots and it is expressed in every dish, as I share glimpses of the first flavors introduced to me as a boy. Starting from my travels in culinary school, I came to understand how through food I could clearly express the essence of each regional cuisine.

Forging relationships with what were, at that time unknown artisanal wine producers (who would later become known as the great producers of their respective regions), I isolated the pronounced flavors inherent in the soil and paired them with local ingredients and intensifying the flavors of each hand crafted dish. This creative and calculated gamble has lead to one of the finest and most sought after cellars in Orange County, coupled with a menu offering dishes whose flavors are complimentary down to your last bite. I am pleased and honored to have you as my guest.

Mangia bene, vivi felice

Friday, May 17, 2013

Recipes For Life: Part 1

Eating and drinking sometimes becomes much more complicated than it needs to be.

       We tap into so much bs and it is very difficult to distinguish between facts and fantasy. As a chef we always try to make foods that are interesting, exciting and somehow eloquent the visual and the palate. But sometimes that requires items that are not necessary good for you , but when we are talking about people's health and well being, the conversation should be more intelligent and more thoughtful.  when we make dishes for everyday eating, health,and quality become more than words; it's the selection of ingredients that are well suited for a better metabolism and more exciting for the palate because it is important for food to stay attractive and desirable. It's the reason why we generally come to the table, and the reason why we eat everyday is to bring some intelligent and amazing nutrition to our bodies.

        We eat, we drink: because the body needs the right nutrients and also the right hydration. We can achieve those goals with very simple steps. Nature provides a lot more than we give credit to. Unfortunately we have become a world where the supermarket and grocery store are giant compounds where you can buy industrial sized packages. They have taken away the beautiful relationship that we have had in the past with our food and our food suppliers.

     So, its become really a fight of the boxes. What is in the boxes? What kind of ingredients? How many different preservatives and harmful ingredients are in there? What is the nutritional value? Sometimes its very easy to blame the other person. Sometimes honestly, its very difficult to keep up with whats going on in the marketplace. There are a lot of camouflaging flavors and tastes and textures that we like and enjoy, things we have been accustomed to all our lives. However they do not have the same nutritional quality that they used to or even the same ingredients that they used to. In this context, our recipes for life are about making choices that are in line with exciting dining experience as well as choosing foods that are very appealing, nutritious, and delicious to the the palate.

      In reality the tables and the conversation turned to another level altogether. As a chef, I bring the experience and the expertise to the table because is very important to be able to educate in a way that is fun, practical, easy to achieve, and sustainable. People's success will determine the reasons why they stay on. Nobody likes to feel incompetent, nobody enjoys the feeling of not being able to make something. Yet, food is simple. You can make something very delicious. Sometimes all you need is a little guidance. Sometimes it is just a few tips- how to, where to-  how to make it, and where to buy it. More importantly, two or three steps that are required to achieve your super results.I'm always excited to see how much people really can do for themselves. With that in mind I created Recipes for Life, a cooking program that requires simple steps for people to achieve their desired results.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Freedom and a Passion for Living

Photo: New dissh for 2013 brick house Scottish smoke salmon buffola mozzarella marinated eggplant manderin evoo drizzle.buon appetitoLet's talk about something that is almost sacrosanct and untouchable. Let's talk about the industry tyranny and the mental slavery rather than what is supposed to be freedom. The freedom in life as the Greek design as democracy . the freedom to decide  our own failures our own success. the resistance of trying to impose on other peoples our desires and our wishes and the tyranny of an industry that keeps on pushing and pushing to try to make food more available, more convenient, abundant but nevertheless always more contaminated, always more unhealthy for you.

 In the grand scheme of things one can always say, well food is better today than it has always been because we have such great true safeguards. To some extent. It's like a short blanket, we cover our head and we expose our feet. The same as always, in the old days there were hygienic issues because people did not know any better. Now there are issues of profitability and time consumption, the hourly wage,market, necessities now we are pulling the blanket the other way. the reality is that quality food comes from commitment. Commitment from the farmers, commitment from distributors, commitment from the operators: restaurateurs, stores, and the like. often to often its easy to use mantra, models, the coolest word of the day: "sustainable" yesterday was "organic" in between is "biodynamic" and now is "local" . All those things are important if you believe it. Its important if you actually stop preaching it and do it. I made a commitment thirty years plus ago., but it was a commitment borne out of the true belief. I was born and raised in that environment and I know the control and the safeguard that you can put in place when you believe and you know and you spend your time researching it.

Photo: Wild african shrimp steamed in clams mussels andblack cabbage my new dishe 2013 soon in the menu at Onotria A lot of issues can be summed up very quickly, the short distance between the growers and the consumer is always the one preferred but not always the only solution. The other quality control as far as knowledge and storage, those are issues, if people transport them in a unsafe truck or unsafe manner, it pretty much deletes the first effort. The other of course is the ultimate responsibility of the producers to be able to make the food and present it to you, whether they sell it through a shopping market, or they sell it through a restaurant but often, too often, the most common place people get their food is the fast food. they sell it fast for a reason, people are in a hurry and the convenience can all get lost in translation. Now we always have a tendency to pile, to put everybody in the same lump and say "well fast food is not good for you,"  and a lot of people argue in a lot of different ways you know you can argue from a dietary standpoint, you can argue from a lifestyle standpoint and the reality is there are a lot of arguments to be made there are realities in everybody's life. anyone who has driven across the town and they're hungry the best thing to do is to stop at one of those fast food places. The other word is inexpensive and cheap. All things are equal. maybe all these things are true but in the long run people have surrendered their quality of life, why are they in a hurry? Why do they need to stop in a cubicle, grab food from their windows and put it in their lap and be driving while they're eating it. Is eating just becoming a function of life?

Photo: New Year eve party at Onotria D.J MIn our human history one of the things we do is celebrate. Celebrate life, death, friendship, love. We seem to being doing a good job of it. We like our candle lights, we like our roses, we like our table settings, expensive homes. so that means that these are important things to us. but the truly most important thing. I truly believe, to us, is the human contact. the time that we take to dedicate to ourselves the moment where we actually look at what we put in our mouth. We take the time to reflect upon what we have done so far, with just peace and quiet.Photo: Buongiorno  the thing about coffee house in America .the coffe is great but to much chatter about business not enough about life, sex, religion or soccer.boy they are really vanilla not spices at all.It time for a party alla Marquise Desade. As an Italian, I understand how much you guys admire us. because we make a celebration out of the smallest things, like an espresso. I remember the first time I ordered an espresso and they made me a cup of coffee.  I was horrified by the thought of drinking that much coffee.but what's more horrific was, it came in a paper cup. I explained to the barista that this was not about coffee, it was about my time. The celebration of that five, three, ten minutes that it takes to pour a little sugar in the cup stir it with a little spoon put it on the side of the cup on a saucer lift the cup like its is the greatest thing, the chalice of life, because in that brief moment nobody owns that time but me. They look at me like I was the biggest idiot that ever walked on the face of the earth. Coffee for them is just hot water, that gives you a boost. If you feel that way, you've missed the whole point of being on the face of the earth . If you're just a function of this hurricane called humanity and you don't take the time to enjoy the little things in life that us humans have created around us to enjoy. The sound of a violin, the taste of a beautiful peach in the summertime. smell the deliciousness of a slow roast veal shank, or admire the legs of a great glass of wine I just want to tell you, I don't know what you have in your bank, but you're never going to be rich. You're never going to understand what true wealth , what being alive is all about.

Let's begin this 2013 with the right attitude. If you love life as much as I do, if you enjoy the smallest things in life as much as I do, well then, lets lift a glass and celebrate a Happy New Year's and a great beginning and lets start looking forward. Just stop reminiscing what was wrong behind us last year.
Photo: Epic wine tasting from  the 80s at Onotria January 25 at 7. Pm
We at Onotria have many great new recipes we're going to introduce to you this year, with very energized creativity, but more important a sense of ultimate celebration, because life is the most beautiful thing. and to be able to celebrate every single day in the smallest way for the smallest reasons it gives you all new meaning of living : La vita bella. like Benegni used to say, everybody truly is, we are blessed by love, blessed by friends. We are also blessed by an abundant land with
 many resources and a great, great lets freedom. Lets take advantage of it and bring it in, sink it in, share it with others and more importantly...