We recently had the chance to spend a day in the life of a San Francisco chef during our film shoot with Mattia Marcelli, the featured chef at our August 20 dinner at The Village.
On our shoot, we followed the chef as he picked up some fresh veggies at CUESA's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (a portion of the proceeds from our event will be donated to CUESA), using all of his senses to carefully select the perfect ingredients. He then took us back to his kitchen at 54 Mint where he meticulously crafted his signature handmade ravioli and spaghetti.
"I've been making pasta for the last 13 years and I'm still learning... every day you learn something new. It can take you a lifetime to learn and master your skills."
We spoke to the chef about his food and his culinary values, and he touched on something that seems to come up with every chef we've worked with--the ability for food to bring families and communities together. That idea may be especially true for Chef Marcelli, a Roman immigrant, as family plays a central role in Italian culture.
Although he's now an accomplished chef, he originally learned to cook from his mother and grandmother, and he still considers them "the pros," often calling them for advice or suggestions on a new dish.
"My mother and grandmother wanted me to learn how to cook because that's the culture in Italy. You have to learn how to cook for yourself. That's what they learned from their mothers and grandmothers so they teach to the next generation how to preserve the culture and how to cook the food that we used to eat."
Family and community coming together around the dinner table, savoring the food, sharing stories, and enjoying each other's company--this is what motivates Chef Marcelli as a culinary professional, it's what informs the direction of his restaurant, and it's what we hope all of our guests experienced when Chef Marcelli brought his expertise to Farm To Fork SF on August 20.
"What motivates me most is to see people happy, to see people enjoying themselves, talking, sharing the food, and seeing their faces... I think food makes everybody happy. It doesn't matter how you felt before, if you eat something good, you're going to be happy... For me that's a really good thing to do--to make people happy and enjoy themselves and enjoy the food."
"Here [at 54 Mint] when I go table to table and ask people what they're thinking and they thank me for the beautiful food, it reminds me when I grew up and we'd gather all the tables together, we'd eat, we'd spend time together, we'd talk... For me that's like being close to my family back in Italy."