It will be soon be October, and while researching subjects, I was introduced to a sudden influx of female chefs. So we're unofficially dedicating this month to the ladies. And to kick it off, we seek the impossible: tasty Italian in a food court. Gloria Mogollon of Franco's Pasta Cucina is up to the task.
What are six words that describe you?
Fresh, authentic, original, Italian pasta cooked-to-order, tasty and fulfilling.
What are eight words that describe you?
Passionate, creative, loving, innovative, affectionate, warm, skilled and fun!
Your best recent food find:
Huachinago a la Veracruzana (red snapper dish) from Las Brisas in Laguna Beach . . . delicious!
Most undervalued ingredient:
Cumin, when used correctly! I don't use it at Franco's, but I love it and use it frequently at home. It works well in arroz con pollo.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen:
A clean and organized kitchen translates into delicious pasta lunches for as many customers as possible. We're only open for lunch, so it's important for the kitchen to be clean and organized. I insist the pans and utensils are cleaned after each use.
One food you detest.
Anchovies are way too salty and have a yucky texture.
One food you can't live without and why:
Personally, I cannot live without milk. My husband says we need a cow in the back yard. When I'm really thirsty, I drink a big glass of whole milk. It's what I had in my childhood. It pairs great with Oreos, especially Double Stuff.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Diversity and variety of restaurants and food selections.
What fast food do you admit to eating?
Chipotle: I like the nice mix of beans and meat. It reminds me of my hometown and a dish I used to eat as a child called calentado.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Do not use too much spice, and be cautious to not overcook your dishes.
My living room at home with my husband and two children.
Favorite celebrity chef.
Giada De Laurentiis because I like how she cooks Italian food with fresh ingredients, and she always seems to have fun cooking.
Celebrity chef who should shut up.
I don't care much for Pat and Gina Neely and the type of food they prepare. That type of food and how they explain it . . . well, I don't watch Down Home With the Neelys.
Favorite music to cook by:
I like Shakira's music, and I also like the contemporary pop music my 20-year-old son plays. While cooking at home, however, I prefer the TV playing in the background.
Best food city in America:
My favorite food city is New York. It's such a fascinating city with a storied history, and I think the restaurants and food scene reflects all of this. In addition, the world-class chefs, selection and diversity is second to none! Fun place to go out and dine.
What you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
New fusion where chefs are not afraid to mix new ingredients and try new things. I'm a fan of dishes that blend cultures. I'd also like to see more, really good salad bars.
What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
The Ultimate Low Fat published by Paragon Publishing in 2003. It's a wonderful book.
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
I'm either at the gym or at home with my husband, son and daughter.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Without a doubt, it would have to be hormigas culonas, or ants. These are a rare type of ant native to my hometown of Bucaramanga, Colombia, that comes out of the mountains once a year during April. They are collected and very expensive. They have a big body, and to prepare them, you remove the head, wings and feet, then fry them in butter and salt. They are quite a delicacy--and better than you might think.
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You're making breakfast. What are you having?
I keep it simple for myself: coffee and wheat toast with a small amount of butter.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
I love the taste of garlic and use it in every dish, even rice.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
Spaghetti and meatballs in alfredo sauce. A customer at Franco's requested it. I didn't prepare it because it would be terrible.