In May 2014, less than five years ago, I made a promise to myself. A number of attempts at starting to write after a long journalistic hiatus had dismally failed. That promise was to show up and to write and to keep at it even if the odds might be heavily stacked against me.
With the incessant support of my wife Giulia, I am proud to have reached a first major milestone. What you are reading is the 1000th article on Food and Wine Gazette.
This website took off in September 2014 after weeks of brainstorming with Giulia as to what the name of the website should be. When we decided on Food and Wine Gazette, we took the plunge without necessarily knowing what direction the website would take. All we knew was that this would be a way for me to express my creativity and feed my curiousity for stories, people, food and places.
With no stretch of imagination on that September did I imagine that I would get to where I am today. One article at a time, most of them written after the children fall asleep, and sometimes late into the night has led to this encouraging milestone.
Many people ask me how I do it and this is a way to tell you a bit about what goes on behind the scenes and hopefully inspire you to also do whatever you are passionate or love doing. If I can even help one person to take the plunge and create a lasting habit I would be over the moon.
The writing and the habit helped me during a dark moment in my professional life. I did not realise how much I missed the writing for a very long time and it only hit me after I rediscovered the habit after many years of absence.
What I’ve done over the past few years was achieved in my free time. Of course it came with sacrifices. Over the past four years, I’ve barely watched television except for the occasional Chef’s Table or food programme. Instead, I’ve used the time to prioritise on what I enjoy most which is writing and bringing you stories about people, food and places.
I am indebted to many people who have made this journey possible starting with my wife whose incessant support and patience has been endless.
I’ve got Mauro Colagreco and Kobe Desramaults for being the first two chefs who accepted to be interviewed at Chef Sache in Cologne without really knowing who I was. I felt like a fraud but they gave me the confidence to start. Sang Hoon Degeimbre was the first chef to open his kitchen to me to go behind the scenes and write his story and for that I am also really grateful.
Then there was Andrea Petrini and Alexandra Swenden who through GELINAZ! opened doors which for me would have been unimaginable a few years back.
Most of all I am indebted to each and everyone of you reading this article because you have all supported me along the way either through feedback, encouragement, a like or a share on social media. The journey today has also been thanks to you.
How it started
It was in late January 2014. I had turned 40 on 11 January and I sat down to watch an episode of Masterchef the Professionals on the BBC. As part of the final week, they had sent a group of chefs to cook in Modena, Italy at Osteria Francescana.
Of course going there had long been a dream of mine but what Massimo Bottura told the cooks competing in the final jolted me. He was telling them to connect to their past, to follow their passion and do what they do with love because that would be visible on the plate. Create emotions but to do so you need to have the enthusiasm that carries these emotions through.
Something he said stuck with me. I was emotional watching that episode. A few days later we were at friend’s house and we ended up talking about this episode. We should go to Osteria Francescana we said half jokingly. Within days we had a booking for 9th May.
They say the journey is sometimes more important than reaching the destination. In this case, the journey was not making it to the destination but what followed after. Dining at Osteria Francescana had always been my dream since the day I visited Fulvio Pierangelini’s Gambero Rosso.
With a booking in hand we needed to sort out babysitting but where there is a will there is a way and we immediately got cracking. With that issue solved we were ready to eat at the restaurant which would eventually make it to the pinnacle of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
The experience was mind-blowing on many counts. With the benefit of hindsight, it triggered yet another reinvention in me.
Massimo Bottura was unfortunately not present on the day we visited. We had a memorable lunch.
That experience triggered an urge in me to write and share stories and ideas. From that day I haven’t looked back. Here is to the next 1,000 articles.