Part two with Gloria Mogollon goes al dente, as we inquire about desserts, beach houses and Franco's whereabouts. Get ready for a hearty recipe tomorrow. For now, have a helping of part one. [Editor's Note: And be sure to utilize that 10 percent student discount. Isn't Pepperdine across the street?]
Hardest lesson you've learned:
Pots just out of the oven are extremely hot and dangerous. On a busy day, I had removed a pot from the oven and placed it on the range. I was so busy preparing pasta dishes, I forgot it was just out of the oven and hot. I grabbed it with both hands to move it and badly burned both my hands. It was a busy day, so I had to bite my lip and make it through the lunch service before going to the hospital to treat my burns.
What would your last meal on Earth be?
Tortada hatas, which is a cake dessert native to my hometown in Colombia.
Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?
I love Anthony Bourdain. He's fearless and not afraid to taste anything — very adventurous!
Tell us about your food-service-industry background.
I originally learned how to cook from my mother when I was 10 years old. I would follow her in the kitchen with a notebook, taking detailed notes about everything she did. I also took classes at the Culinary Institute in Bucaramanga, Columbia.
I always liked Italian food, and my mother-in-law is Italian. I learned basic Italian from her. I met Franco here in Irvine when visiting his restaurant one time. We became friends and began cooking together. He would come to my house or I would go to his house to cook pasta and other Italian dishes. He really taught me a lot.
Where are you from, and how did you end up in Orange County?
I'm originally from Bucaramanga, Columbia. My husband's job brought us to Orange County.
What happened to Franco?
Franco is retired and enjoying life in Italy. We remain friends and are in touch. When he visits OC, he drops into the restaurant and we cook together.
Tell us the secret to a perfect plate of pasta.
Well, I can tell you the key is the sauce, as well as cooking the pasta al dente. To learn more, visit Franco's for lunch sometime.
What kinds of updates did you make to the menu?
I've added a number of dishes, expanding upon the pasta dishes. This includes chicken Parmesan, chicken marsala, beef burgundy and some others. I've added salad to lunch. We've also been serving desserts on Tuesday, which are free with the coupon that can be downloaded from our website, www.francospasta.com.
If you had to choose, what sweet do you prefer: ice cream, gelato or frozen yogurt?
The coconut-flavored frozen yogurt from Yogurtland.
What dish would you tell newcomers to Franco's Pasta Cucina to try first?
First would be bowtie chicken pesto. Second, I'd recommend returning on a Thursday for chicken Parmesan.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I'd be a veterinarian. I love animals, but there were no careers in this field in my hometown when I was growing up, and my father advised me against it.
What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
Be prepared to work hard. This is not an easy business, and it's very competitive. You must truly have a passion for it. If you, indeed, have a passion for food, then be persistent.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
In five years, I'd like to have a small, cozy Italian restaurant here in Orange County. In 10 years, I'd like to be cooking for my family and friends in a beach house in Florida.
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