Sharing memories of food, fathers and fantastic times with everyone’s favorite super chef, David Ruggerio
We spoke with super chef and author David Ruggerio about the fond memories he has with his father. Let’s celebrate Dad’s day by taking a stroll down memory lane with him.
Q: What are your fondest food and cooking-related memories of/with your father?
A: Despite not being a professional chef, my father could cook with the best of them. He had a great tradition. He believes, and I agree, that he makes one of the best meatballs ever. Every Sunday, he makes enough meatballs for nearly forty people (no joke). He invites one group in the late morning to roll the meatballs, and then they have the pleasure of eating them fried as they come out of the frying pan. If you have never eaten a fried meatball right out of the pan, you have not lived.
The second round of invitations is for 3 pm when they are served in the traditional Sunday “gravy” which includes meatballs (of course) pork spareribs, a whole pepperoni, and Italian sausage. The meats are cooked in tomato sauce for hours, then macaroni is dressed with the “gravy.”
The meats follow with usually a salad of the tender hearts of escarole with lemon and olive oil. Yum!
Q: What is the most valuable, memorable cooking lesson your father taught you?
A: Whenever he ever cooked, he only used the best. He had one store for his cheeses, one store for his meats, and one store for his mozzarella. If he couldn’t get the quality he desired, he didn’t substitute, he cooked something else.
Q: What is the most valuable, memorable life lesson your father taught you?
A: My father, Saverio Gambino, lived by many mantra’s, yet one stands out- I am a kind person, I’m kind to everyone, but of someone is not kind to me, kindness is not what you’ll remember about me.
Q: How you used to celebrate Father’s Day and how you do it now? What plans you have for this year?
A: The most valuable thing in life for not only my father, but also me, is family. He always wanted all his children and all his grandchildren with him on such holidays. For him, family was the glue that kept us together. I am exactly the same.
Q: Would you like to add anything?
A: After living as much life as I have, and with all the things happening around us today, you realize that family is not only everything, it is the only thing. No matter where your loved ones are, on this coming Father’s Day reach out for them, tell them how much they mean to you, and most importantly, tell them you love them. Life is too short, and the day you come to realize that, it might be just too late.
Ruggerio is known worldwide as a celebrity chef, he rose to the position of top chef at the famous La Caravelle in New York by age 25. He went on to take command of Pierre Cardin’s New York outpost of Maxim’s de Paris, where he garnered three stars from The New York Times. In 1995, Robert Mondavi, the note vintner, named him one of the thirteen best young chefs in America. For more information, visit his website: DavidRuggerio.com.