Adapting Traditional Food Prep in a Modern World

By: Fabrizio Moroldo, Chef/Owner of Moroldo’s Fine Italian Restaurant

I come from a very different culture where food is not something you eat quickly from need. Instead I believe food is central to life to provide pleasure. Today people are seeking to eat dinner in less than an hour so they can make it to the 7:00 movie on time. It can be a challenge to prepare food thoughtfully and beautifully and get it to my customer so they can eat and run. To me this is not the ideal situation, but I have found a way to do so to meet my customers’ needs.

I have lived in many places around the world and one of the hardest cultural changes for me is the very different approach to food. In Italy, and most places in Europe we approach food as an event. In the back of the kitchen in most restaurants you will often find a lady cooking as she has been taught by her mother and grandmother. We do not look at food trends. Instead it is traditional foods prepared fresh; some simmered for hours or grilled perfectly for minutes. The most important element to Italian food is the love and passion of the cook who loves to share their food with family and friends.

I do not think this is something that can be learned at cooking school even though I am classically trained. My talent comes not from culinary school but instead from the loving attention of my mother and grandmother. A combination of Italian and Spanish influences, I have learned from the hearts and souls of my family as most Italian cooks do. That is why I think that you can give the same ingredients to a classically trained cook and a true Italian who has lived in a place where food is central to life and the food will be distinctly different. Why? Because not all classically trained chefs have the experience of Italy in their hearts and minds.

There’s a big demand for Chefs to reach celebrity status today and I have had my share of attention including being one of only 12 Montana Chefs to be chosen for the “Best Chefs America” list. This meant a lot as it is a privilege to be nominated by your peers as someone who is making a different in a very competitive industry. However for me, it is all about the cooking not about fame.

What I bring to my customers is experience cooking throughout Europe in kitchens from Italy and Spain to France and England. Each provided me with valuable insight into food preparation as well as techniques and ingredients and how to use them with creativity. My food is always evolving using traditional ideals and ingredients to produce new and inspired dishes. Cooking is an art and much like an artist such as Picasso or Chagall creates beautiful paintings, I view cooking each dish as a masterpiece.  That is why it is difficult to be faced with the need to work quickly when you want each dish to come out beautifully.

This demand has allowed me learn a few very important skills I use at my restaurant Moroldo’s Fine Italian Restaurant in Bigfork, Montana. The first is the ability to problem solve as I go, addressing issues quickly with solutions so I am never forced to sacrifice flavor for efficiency. Second I think that at all costs both the kitchen and dining room must be clean. Safe, clean kitchens produce fresh delicious foods without ever putting the diner at risk. And finally organization of everything from foods to food prep and service allows a restaurant to provide excellent service and beautiful food consistently to the customer so they always enjoy the same high quality experience no matter how busy I am.

Most of all I remember that my customers are doing me a favor by choosing my restaurant. I in turn have to be ready to provide them with the quality food and service they have come to know. I know my customers trust me and I often have regulars ask me to come up with a dish created just for them. They put their faith in my skills to bring a new and unique plate that offers them a chance to experience something special. That is how I approach each dish I make and each customer I serve.

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