Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Paul Bertolli

The SF Chron and Michael Bauer, food writer par excellence, are doing a series on influential Bay Area chefs. Today they discuss Paul Bertolli. I am a huge fan of his and had the fortune to interview him for an oral history series on "California cuisine" (we understood it as a loose term) through the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley. Here's what the Chron has to say:

His background is impeccable - a decade as chef de cuisine at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, followed by 11 years as chef-partner of Oliveto in Oakland, where his purist approach made national waves. He made his own pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and and charcuterie. He out-Italianed the Italians: He ground his own flour for pasta, for example, and more than likely shot the boar that went into his wild boar sausage. He shared his philosophy in his 2003 cookbook, "Cooking by Hand," which has inspired thousands of chefs and cooking enthusiasts. His love of handcrafted cured meats grew so intense that a few years ago he left the restaurant and created Fra' Mani products in Oakland, recently branching out to produce pancetta, hams and pates. His products are now carried at just about every high-end retailer and restaurant in the city - unless the chefs are making their own, thanks to Bertolli's lead.

I can't recommend his book "Cooking by Hand" enough. Also, get Chez Panisse Cookbook, which came out in the late eighties and was written by Bertolli. It is vastly superior to the other cookbooks by Chez Panisse.


Michael Natkin said...

Ok, I ordered both books! I've been enjoying the more recent Alice Waters book, Simple Cooking, too.

Ulla said...

the history of California cuisine sounds fascinating. California has so much to offer in terms of produce. not to mention all the culturual influences!

Michael Natkin said...

The books came and I already started Cooking By Hand, which is spectacular even for a veg. Nice call.

redman said...

glad you're enjoying it. You'll probably deeply appreciate the sections on tomatoes and pasta, which are some of the most comprehensive treatises on those subjects. I've been wanting to try and make the conserva he describes, which Pellegrini also talks about. There's a great recipe for a shaved summer squash salad that is great if you have them super fresh. Glad you're liking it!

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