Chris Bianco on One of the Most Under-Rated Chefs in America and What's Great About Italian Cooking in Italy
This is part two of my interview with Chris Bianco, chef-owner of Pizzeria Bianco, Bar Bianco, Pane Bianco and Trattoria Bianco. If you missed part one, where Bianco dished about Jamie Oliver, the local chefs he most admires and awesome pizza, read it here.
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Dish, trend or catch-phrase you wish would go away: Local and organic. I'm looking forward to the day when this is a way of life and not just a trend.
Your favorite cuisine, other than Italian: Mexican. It's the food I crave most when I travel. It reminds me of home.
Best food memory: Too many to list, but one that stands out: it was winter, about 1975. Walking home from school and winter's shorter days gave way to night, and my whole block was lit up for Christmas except for one house . . . mine. My brother and I got home a little earlier than my mom did from work (the electric company wasn't ever cool about waiting until Monday to cash the check). Anyway, when my mom walked in the door, instead of seeing the pitch-black house as any inconvenience, she saw a perfect night to cook the unintentionally defrosted London broil in the fireplace. So my brother and I got a fire going, pinned the London Broil in the grill basket and we held it over the fire until it reached charred and bloody perfection. That and a few baked potatoes wrapped in foil, stuck in the corner of the fireplace, a few hurricane candles and happy days. Who needs electricity?
National/international chef (other than Jamie) you admire: Marc Vetri. He has given the city of Philadelphia some of the best Italian food on the planet and the work he does with Alex's Lemonade Stand is one of the most inspiring contributions of best intention that I have ever witnessed.
How has your life changed, now that you have restaurants in the UK?: I spend lots of time in the air. It's forced me to carve out time for things that truly matter.
How is the Brit pizza-eater different from the American pizza-eater? Have you had to adapt the menu?: I don't think the pizza-eater is different. The pizzas we do there were adapted to celebrate farmhouse English cheeses instead of Italian cheeses and we use forgotten heritage English wheat. It's a study in using what's in your backyard to make something we all recognize, but the deeper you dig, the provenance of ingredients is closer than you think.