Il Mondo Vecchio's Mark DeNittis on fat sausages, scrawny chicken feet and breasts
Six words to describe your food: Ancestral, clean, simple, profound, insightful and true.
Ten words to describe you: Intense, short (physically), mindful, candid, honest, genuine, buoyant, resilient, certain and bold.
Favorite ingredient: Wine. It's flavorful and adds richness and depth to a multitude of things, most notably cured meats, plus I just love cooking with it, especially with braises and stews done slow and low. Most important, there's always some that ends up in my glass.
Best recent food find: Calise & Sons Bulkie rolls. I was back in Massachusetts in February and found them on a supermarket shelf. It's the bread that you're supposed to use when making a meatball or sausage sandwich. Unfortunately, they're only available on the East Coast. Fortunately, I have a personal stash of them.
Most overrated ingredient: I absolutely hate chicken breasts -- loathe chicken breasts. Chicken breasts suck. They're flavorless, fatless, dry and way overplayed. I'm not completely anti-chicken though. I'm a thigh guy for sure -- a fan of big, bold, rich and sexy thighs simmered slowly in wine. By the way, the chickens from the Mennonites in north central Nebraska are friggin' awesome -- even the breasts.
Most underrated ingredient: Red wine vinegar. I love the stuff on just about anything, but mostly on arugula and/or dandelion green salads. It's a simple and clean ingredient, and it reminds me of home and eating with my family.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Colorado's Best Beef from Boulder -- specifically the 14-to-21-day, dry-aged, all-natural Charolais breed. I get it directly from the owners, who respect the land, the environment and their livestock and are sincere in their efforts, energies and practices. I love the eye of round cut or the sirloin tips, which we use for our Gold Edition bresaola del oro. I'm also a huge fan of their flat iron steaks. I was a rib-eye fan for years until I had a flat iron.
One food you detest: Chicken feet. I detest them. Just the thought of those scaly, dirty things makes me cringe. They're good for one thing: strapping razor blades to their feet. Not that I condone or support the underground practice of cock fighting in any way, shape or form. I do, however, love pickled or braised pig's feet.
One food you can't live without: Smooth peanut butter, strawberry jelly, Nutella and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches. It's simple, quick and sustaining.
Biggest kitchen disaster: I was working in a restaurant and had to make a hollandaise sauce, which I never did in the two years I was in culinary school. I threw all the components -- clarified butter, egg yolks and everything else -- into the stainless steel bowl and started whisking like a madman. The chef and sous watched me for about fifteen minutes, giving me time to sweat through one of those paper chef hats, before finally coming over and calling me out. I knew all of the damn components, but I'd never gone through the physical process of making a hollandaise sauce until then. Lesson learned: Know and understand cooking methods and procedures.