On the Line: David Rossi Of THE RANCH, Part One
Pass the vinegar
Photo by LP Hastings
When I made THE RANCH part of my Top 5 in 2012, it earned a spot for many reasons; one of them being the incredible duo of the brothers Rossi. This week, I'm excited to communicate with pastry chef David Rossi. While he is labeled as "pastry", you're about to quickly learn that he's much more.
When I interviewed your brother, he made a point of saying that you do more than pastry at THE RANCH. Could you please elaborate on your responsibilities? I oversee all of the smoking, curing, canning and pickling all our produce from our own heirloom vegetable farm on Edwards Ranch Estates.
Best culinary tip for the home baker. Follow the recipe.
What kinds of desserts do you like? Hands down, double chocolate brownies. I make them from scratch with home-made vanilla ice cream (I have my own ice cream maker at home, too).
You best recent food find: Calabrian chile spread. I purchased it from Serfas.
Most undervalued ingredient: I would have to say vinegar. This may sound strange, but even with some desserts I use vinegar to give it an extra kick. For instance, I might use balsamic with strawberries. And, of course, when pickling and canning I may use different styles of vinegars.
You were a self-proclaimed "picky eater" growing up. How picky were you, and are you still picky? When I was younger, I ate a lot of cereal and toast. I wasn't very adventurous, and now-- there's not much I won't eat.
Favorite meal growing up: My grandmother's or my mother's pizza, no question. Grandma Rossi makes the best pizza, and she makes it with tri-color bell peppers, sauce and Pecorino Romano. It's always the best. I don't really like peppers. However, this pizza I'll eat hot, cold, anytime. It's my favorite.
Tell us about your time in Italy, including how it influenced your decision to focus on pastry. It was THE influence! I had not done it before, and my externship required me to work with a pastry chef for the first month. I liked it and learned so much that I asked the chef if I could do my whole externship with him. In Italy, I learned how to make home-made ice creams-- it is my absolute favorite thing. I learned how to make sauces and bread from scratch from true artisans. I loved learning the technique and artisanal way people in Italy approach cuisine.
Are there lessons that you might not have learned as quickly if you didn't attend culinary school? Basic techniques that help improve speed and efficiency when preparing for large volume.
Where was your most recent meal? Last night I went to the best German deli down the street from my house [Editor's Note: We confirmed it's Globe Deli.] and made brats and sauerkraut.
Favorite places to eat. Honestly, my favorite find right now is Habit Burger-- double char with cheese.
What is your beverage of choice? I enjoy beer. Right now, I am really into exploring different IPAs, and discovering all the hand-crafted IPAs and brews.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?): A lady asked for a green salad with no dressing, a side of Dijon mustard, a side of horseradish, and she was wearing a cape. Yes, we always accommodate our guests' requests.
You're making breakfast; what are you having? I like to eat spicy, so most of the time I'll make a chorizo and egg breakfast burrito.
Are there stereotypes people have about pastry chefs, and are they true? A lot of people think pastry chefs do not have the ability to cook savory; I don't think it's true. I think my perspective is different, and may contribute a different idea, or add a different flavor profile that may not have been originally thought. I believe if you can cook pastry, sweets, etc, you can cook!
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