I would probably say it was the pasta course that I did on “Top Chef.” It was the dish that really pushed me out of my Italian handcuffs. It was the pasta I made in the final episode, which was a squid ink pasta that I made with shrimp stock and coconut milk and shiso and tomatoes. And then I did a shrimp tartare on top and you stir the shrimp into the pasta and it cooks. The judges were just like, “We’ve never had anything like this before.” That was me really kind of bridging the experiences I’ve had in life.
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I’d probably try to go on a boat and take a river tour of Chicago. I love the water. I haven’t been to Italy since before we opened the restaurant, and Jaime hasn’t been since 2011.
I just got “Milk Street,” and I hadn’t read it yet. I really enjoyed it. I read more recipes. I also just read “On the Noodle Road,” a book about a food writer who lives in Beijing who follows the Silk Road in search of pasta noodles and how they change from China all the way to Rome.
Probably cheese and crackers, or a cheese plate with crackers and honey. Always try to have a cheese or two in the house.