Eric Cimino, chef of Luca, on the number one rule in Frank Bonanno's kitchens
This is part two of my interview with Eric Cimino, chef of Luca D'Italia; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given?
I love getting new cookbooks, especially the odd, quirky ones, and I'm always searching for older, collectible, illustrated books on herbs and vegetables. Right now, my favorite cookbook is Manresa: An Edible Reflection.
Favorite culinary-related item to give as a gift:
A great bottle of olive oil is an awesome gift, because it's one of those things that people really love but don't often buy for themselves.
What's your fantasy splurge?
I'd eat my way through Peru. There's a really exciting food explosion happening there right now, and the abundance of awesome ingredients that they've been mastering for centuries is really amazing.
If you could have dinner, all expenses paid, at any restaurant in the world, where would you go?
I've always wanted to go to Arzak, in San Sebastián, Spain. Spanish cuisine is wonderful, and the integration of modern techniques with hundreds of years of traditional food culture really intrigues me.
If you could dress any way you want, what would you wear in the kitchen?
It all depends on the restaurant environment. I appreciate the formality of the chef whites in a fine-dining setting, but I like the relaxed feel of a T-shirt and comfortable pants when the mood is more casual.
Best recipe tip for a home cook:
Working from recipes is a great way to learn. Follow a recipe at least once, and then, based on your likes and dislikes, try and make it your own.
If you could make one request of Denver diners, what would it be?
I'd ask them to be more adventurous and keep an open mind when dining out. You never know when something new might take you by surprise.
What do you expect from a restaurant critic?
I expect a restaurant critic to start their dining experience with a clean slate -- no preconceived judgments. I also think anonymity can be a good thing, but my goal is for every guest to have the best dining experience possible.
Would you ever send a dish back if you were dining in a friend's restaurant?
I wouldn't send a dish back, but I would probably talk to them later about why I didn't think it worked.