We met Gabriele Corcos, an Italian cook in the USA, a TV celebrity with his show Extra Virgin on Cooking Channel and author of a cookbook with the same name. Gabriele is also an excellent entrepreneur: <The Tuscan Gun Officine is a shop in the heart of Brooklyn where you can find and taste the real Italy. In February, he will start his new TV show Extra Virgin Americana with his wife, the actress Debi Mazar. Today he is answering some of our questions.
1) Nine words to present you.
Tuscan, traditional, lively, storyteller, dad, husband, motorcyclist, insomniac, aggressive.
2) What is the episode that gave birth to your passion for food?
When I was 6, I started cooking for my younger brother. I never stopped.
3) What were you doing in Italy and why did you decide to leave?
I was a musician and I worked in Florence; while producing an album I met Debi (then she became my wife) and I chased her to Los Angeles. I have been living here for 15 years.
4) What does it mean to you to be an Italian chef abroad?
In my opinion the most important thing is keeping alive the tradition of agricultural Tuscany cuisine. I’m extremely lucky because, thanks to my TV show and cookbooks, I created a very special niche. For the Americans I became a leading figure and an ambassador of the cooking traditions of Bel Paese.
5) What is the Italian recipe that represents you the most?
Recipes don’t represent me by themselves, it’s the stories I tell during the service that add taste and romanticism to my work.
6) What are the three essential Made in Italy products in your cuisine?
Olive oil, Chianti wine and Parmigiano Reggiano.
7) Who cooks at your home?
What a question, me!
8) What is in your opinion the biggest stereotype foreigners have on Italian cuisine/food? Pizza and Spaghetti, the simplistic interpretation of our cuisine makes me angry. Anyway I try not to take it badly, but I always try in any way to highlight the little differences with our regional cuisine that during the decades in America have resulted in some aberration and/or stereotype on Italian cuisine.
9) Speaking of the “Italian Sounding” phenomenon, what do you think are the solutions to fight it?
There are no solutions, it’s a widespread problem that leverages on the “non-knowledge” of the costumers. The advertising world in America wallows in the universe of the wrong terminologies, a little stupid and in general totally misleading, with the purpose of selling every kind of product. It’s a game that I do with my daughters at the supermarket: we look for the products that use terminologies like “Italian” or “Tuscan”, we take photos and we put them online with a more real and truthful explanation. The last one we found was the Tuscan Pizza: frozen with shrimps and Provolone… I got mad when I saw it!
10) Three words to describe Italian food abroad.
When it’s done well: tradition, melancholy and romanticism. When it’s done badly: deceit, maliciousness, and absolutely not Italian.
Thanks to Gabriele Corcos