I never knew my grandfather well. This is because he died when I was a young boy. And those that did know him, would tell you that he was not the kindest man. A passionate man, they’ll give him that. But it was his oft close proximity to the bottle that would ultimately be his undoing.
Now there are also those that would tell you that my memory has all the retention of a coarse sieve, and while I’d love to argue that point, it’s probably not far from the truth. There is one memory, however, that I’ve managed to retain over the years: I recall being at the dinner table, my Grandfather bouncing me upon his knee. I see him smiling, ear-to-ear. I can feel the warmth from the stove and the air is thick with the perfume of food.
Food has always been a central part of my life. It’s something I am hopelessly passionate about and it was certainly at the center of my grandfather’s life as well. Despite the family’s modest means, they always had the best; he made sure of it—and he wouldn’t let you forget it. The best meats, cheeses … you name it.
My grandfather was a butcher and a cook, and had he been born in France, would have likely been a considered a Charcuterer; and though he’d never use that word, I think it’s fitting.
There’s the somewhat notorious tale of the time he acquired a beaver tail and would attempt to make a stew. If my Gram were still with us today, she’d probably swear you could still smell the stench, decades later, if you inhaled deeply enough.
Fast-forward to today. Fast-forward to me. It’s funny, despite the little to no tangible influence, you’ll find all the same culinary tendencies in me. And if you know me, you know that food is a driving force in my life. Any given Saturday morning you may find me fermenting salami in our guest bathroom, attempting to make gochujang (because that old Korean lady at the market said I can’t do it—and I’ve failed twice!), or nose-deep in one of the hundreds of cookbooks I cannot bring myself to stop acquiring.
So, that said, this journey is dedicated to my grandfather who has unknowingly passed through his genes this insatiable culinary curiosity; to my mother, Jean, who has stoked that fire with her own cooking, guidance and love for food and our family; to my father, Mike, who has worked much harder than most to provide for us; and to my lovely wife, Lisa, a talented artist, pastry chef, and continual source of inspiration, encouraging me to be a better cook—and more importantly, a better man.