The Last Thing We Ate? She's still part owner of Dish in Edwards. She's trying to figure out what her exact next thing will be, but she's looking at working on her own line of products as well.
It was reported that you and Johansen had plans of hosting pop-up dinners and cooking classes at the salumeria. Is that still the case? Yes, we'll do small classes. We'll also do all-you-can-eat pork, pasta and produce Sunday dinners in the backyard.
Are you looking at additional space to produce your artisan line? We're going to partner with a co-packer to do our recipes. Realistically, that's probably the smartest thing at this point rather than getting another space.
Where do you see all of this taking off? Will you always be active in the actual salumi-making? Probably summertime. and yes, I like it back in there. Honestly, I love being in the process. I like cuttin' butts and seeing who can cut faster. I'm able to cut about 250 lbs every twelve minutes, on average.
You recently expanded your facilities at Il Mondo Vecchio to support high demand. Do you have enough space, considering the business continues to grow? I'm thinking the current space might carry us through September, but I'm already confident that we're going to need another dry-cure room. We'd like to have the entire building.
In a Westword interview in August 2010, you mentioned that you'd like to see less retail outlets like Whole Foods. Since you're launching your own food line, do you still feel the same way? They're a big company, just like every other big company. They won't even sample my salumi because I don't use Whole Foods certified pork. A year and a half ago I quietly found 50 pounds of their certified pork out of Iowa. I ran a batch and didn't like the results. As much as I'd like to get the business of Whole Foods, I'm not going to put my brand on something that isn't a good representation of Il Mondo Vecchio and what I grew up with. If I were to go back and use Whole Foods pork just because, and sacrifice my product, it wouldn't be the same. I wouldn't be where I am today.
Let's talk about where you are today. How did your vision for Il Mondo Vecchio come to be? I love what I do, and I do what I love. When I went to culinary school, I knew I wouldn't be in tradition kitchen for the rest of my life. I had no desire. I went into the industry and achieved success very quickly. I left the industry after less than 10 years for teaching. I went to teaching not because I couldn't hang in the industry, but because I wanted a quality a life. It also allowed me to launch Il Mondo Vecchio. In the summer of 2004 I was called in as "crisis management" to take over the Stanley Hotel as exec chef and I bought up a team of my colleagues with me. We'd sit on the patio of The Stanley, drinking Peroni and scotch, and talk about Il Mondo Vecchio and what it was going to be.
Did you originally think Il Mondo Vecchio was just going to be a small artisanal shop? Yea, just a small thing. We were going to do a salumeria first with a small dry-cure room, but some things happened and we just figured we were better off opening a facility first. Had I not done that, I wouldn't have the variety of products that I do. I have about 16 dry-cured products and crap-load of fresh sausages. We probably have 45 items right now.
What does the future of Il Mondo Vecchio look like in your head? The person I want to emulate the most in this industry is John Folse out of Louisiana. he has his meat processing plant, a dairy, a food manufacturing division, he's been on PBS, he's authored books and he has his own culinary institute at Nicholls State University. The guy is just genuinely cool. He's not an arrogant jerk, just really down to to earth. The long-term goal would be to create an empire like that and leave a lasting impression on this world.