A "Taste of Summer": a Trip to the Mediterranean with Chef Michael Lomonaco

First Republic Bank
August 1, 2020

Watch Chef Michael Lomonaco, owner and executive chef of NYC's Porter House and Hudson Yards Grill for a fun and interactive cooking experience. Recorded live from his kitchen.

Read below for a full transcript of the conversation. 

Brian Moroz - Good afternoon and good evening. My name is Brian Moroz. I'm the deputy regional managing director for First Republic Bank here in New York. Thank you all for joining us today for our "Taste of Summer" cooking series. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing our guest chef, Michael Lomonaco. Michael Lomonaco is the chef and partner of the highly-successful Porter House Bar and Grill and cocktail lounge Center Bar, as well as his newest project, Hudson Yards Grill. He's a veteran of the New York restaurant scene. Michael has helmed some of NYC's most iconic kitchens, including 21 Club, Windows on the World, Wild Blue, Noche, and Guastavinos. A well-known face to television audiences, Michael hosted "Epicurious" and "Michael's Place" on Travel Channel and Food Network and makes regular appearances on "The Today Show" and "The Chew." He has published two cookbooks, "The 21 Cookbook" and "Nightly Specials." With that, I welcome Chef Michael Lomonaco. Michael?

Michael Lomonaco - Thank you, Brian. Thank you so much. Nice to be here. I'm really excited about this. This is great. We are neighbors at the Time Warner Center Shops at Columbus Circle. There is First Republic Bank on the first floor and Porter House Bar and Grill on the fourth floor. So we're good neighbors. It's great to be here. So, should I take it away?

Brian - All you, chef.

Michael - Okay, so I'm here, I'm just looking at the screens. I'm trying to get adjusted because on one of them, I'm not getting the full impact. I'm getting it on there, but not on there, so, okay, that's good, I can work with that. So here's what we're going to do. So, this is a Sicilian menu, Sicilian. So I'm of Sicilian heritage and Sicily is just a beautiful place. It is someplace that I love to be. I still have family and cousins there. My family has been here for generations, but we still have close contacts in Sicily. We have close cousins. And whenever I've traveled to Sicily, I thought it was the heart of the Mediterranean for me. And so that's why this menu is kind of my inspiration in some of the foods that we ate at home, but also that I've eaten in Sicily as I've traveled there with my family or without them, or just traveling and seeing Sicily. Italy is someplace that we probably would all like to be, but here I am at home. So welcome to my humble abode and let's get cooking. So the first dish is really one of the great classic salads, and this is a different kind of a salad. Its fennel and orange and onion. And this is a very classic Sicilian dish. So, fennel is one of my favorite foods. It has that kind of anise flavor. It's very refreshing, it's very refreshing to eat. Even after dinner, it's a digestivo in itself as a vegetable and it makes a beautiful salad. And what I did was I just cut it in half. And so some of you are cooking along, so we'll do this together. And I like to take the fennel and I cut off the top, and I have the fronds over here. I'm going to use that at the end. Not the Fonz, but the fronds. And I'm just going to slice this thinly. I'm not using any mechanical equipment, just a knife. In other words, no slicers, no mandolines. I washed it, I cut it in half. I had taken off the fennel fronds, and this is a very classic Sicilian salad. The thing is, is if you do this in the fall or even in the spring and you can get blood oranges, those are the perfect oranges for this. So, I'm just putting my fennel as the base on the plate, sliced fennel. Then we have a red onion, a Bermuda onion, which I'll cut in half, and I'm just going to slice very thinly. This is a Santoku knife. They're really great for vegetables, great for handling vegetables, indeed. And this we slice very thinly, as julienne as possible, and then I break it up, which you can see, and this goes over the top. This is a great pass around, this is a really great starter, and it’s refreshing, especially when you get to the citrus element. So you've got the fennel and you have the onion. I thought we would do everything from scratch so you could see how I work. So that's a very nice naval orange. I would have loved Florida oranges, but they're not in season, but still it's still refreshing. And what I'm doing is I took off the top and the bottom, and now I'm slicing the skin away. I'll show you, and this is what you would do if you wanted to cut orange segments, you would do the same thing. And orange segments are maybe a little bit of a lot of work, but we do that in food, in restaurants. We do often segment oranges and lemons and lines.

Caitlin Trillo - Chef, we have a few questions. Do you mind if I send them over?

Michael- Absolutely, tell me.

Caitlin - Wonderful. Is there a good alternative for a Bermuda onion?

Michael - Well, a good alternative, actually, if you want something a little milder, maybe shallots, and a shallot would be fine, too. You could use a little thinly sliced shallots, or if you could get small Vedalia onions, that would be really nice, and Vedalia onions or a sweet onion would be really lovely.

Caitlin - And if onions aren't really liked by anybody in the household, is there any other alternative?

Michael - Well, I would just leave the onion out, because really the star of the dish is the fennel. The star of the dish is the fennel and the orange, the fennel and the orange. So, there are things about Sicily, the Mediterranean, that are just so, they're so ubiquitous, but they are really part of everyday meals. And in Sicily, oranges, blood oranges, fennel, in fact, fennel is so popular that in the summer and in the warmer months, the really hot months, very often they will go and harvest from the mountains the wild fennel, which doesn't have a bulb, but it's just the fronds. And that's used in pasta con sarde, which is really probably one of the most well-known of the dishes of Sicily. So I would leave the onion out. Here's where we are right now, actually.

Caitlin - Thanks, chef. And then can you repeat the knife you recommended?

Michael - The Vedalia onion?

Caitlin - I'm sorry, the knife you recommended using.

Michael - Oh, I'm using a Santoku. That's the kind of a shape it is. So this is from Asian cuisine. It's become very popular here as a prep knife. It's great on vegetables. It's very handy, it's very sharp, and it’s a thin blade. It's really good for this kind of prep work that we're doing right now. So if you left out the onions, you'd still have a great salad with the orange and with the fennel, because oranges and fennel, citrus, so popular in Sicily and in Sicilian cooking. This is mint, and I'm going to add a little mint to this and a little mint into my... I have some honey here. So the dish is topped now, we're going to drizzle a little bit of a dressing on it. So, let's get some lemon juice right in there, a little lemon with honey and mint. You have your acidity. And if you want to put a splash of oil in there, you could. In fact, this is a nice Sicilian oil. So Mediterranean, it's where I would love to be right now, but I'm not, I'm here with you, and I'm really thrilled about that. In my little vinaigrette, I'm going to put a little pepper and a pinch of salt, just a little salt, and we'll get that. The honey was a little warm, so it'll combine well with the lemon juice.

Caitlin - A few more questions have come in, chef.

Michael - Good.

Caitlin - Some people say that fennel should be soaked in acidic ice water to keep it crisp. Would you recommend that before prepping or while you're prepping?

Michael - I'm sorry, that what should be soaked?

Caitlin - The fennel should be soaked in acidic ice water to keep it crisp.

Michael - You absolutely could. It needs to be cold. You want to keep it refrigerated. But I went right to the dish and I made the salad, so I didn't do that, but yes, you could. In fact, it needs to be refrigerated. So we keep the fennel, and one thing I always do is I clean them. When I wash it, then I'll wrap it with a paper towel and I'll let it rest in the refrigerator. And these are the fennel fronds that I was talking about, and on the wild mountain fennel that they make that great classic pasta con sarde, it's all fronds, there's almost really no bulb, and the fronds are very flavorful. And here, they smell good, so I'm going to use a little fennel fronds just to finish. This is a nice big salad, and fennel fronds and the mint, a little more mint leaf if you want to put some mint leaf. Mint is very popular in Sicilian cooking. It sneaks in. There are so many influences in Sicilian cooking, from Arab cooking and Spanish cooking and French cooking. There's many, many influences, and the food itself is very redolent of the Mediterranean. It's right there. It's so centrally located, its drawn influences from all over the Mediterranean. So our fennel, onion, and citrus orange, orange salad with a mint vinaigrette. I don't know if you get a better shot of it here. How's that, good?

Caitlin - Looks great, chef.

Michael - Looking good?

Caitlin - It looks beautiful. We have Grace from "Tastefully Grace" on, and she sees the wine behind you. Do you have any great wine pairing for this dish and any unique to Sicilian wine?

Michael - Yes, so, we had some fun and we're talking about the Mediterranean and talking about Sicily. Sicily used to sell all their wines in bulk. Their bulk wines were put in giant shipping containers and they went to France, they went to Spain, they went to Northern Italy, and they were used as blending wines, especially in poor years in the other parts of Europe. The Sicilian heat always gave them big red wines. But over the last 20 years, Sicily has just been reborn as a wine center. So actually, I did pick two Sicilian wines for today and two California wines, and one of them is from Arianna Occhipinti. She's a great wine maker in Sicily, and this is a very casual white wine. This is a muscato and an albanello, a muscato and an albalnello. It's not sweet, it's dry, and it’s vinified dry. It's not high in alcohol, just 12% alcohol. She calls it SP68, Spot 68, that's a road, that's the road that goes by her vineyard. And this wine I think would be just really great with the fennel salad, a very classic combination, very refreshing. And a little later, we'll look at the Contrada, which is a red wine, but we also have, this is a white Zinfandel, a dry white Zinfandel. Monte Rio, it looks like a kind of a throwback label, but it's actually a very new winery. The winemakers are kind of very, very, I mean, they're excellent winemakers and Cappiello who was a sommelier in New York went to California to do wines. So he really went back to sort of the classic California look of the design of the label, but a white Zinfandel was popular 20 years ago, but this is a very lovely, dry white Zinfandel. It's kind of really a blush wine, almost a rose, and it's dry, vinified dry, it's not sweet. And they make wines that are very low in alcohol. This is 12 1/2%, lovely with a dish like this. Should we go on to seafood and pasta?

Caitlin - Yes, please.

Michael - Yeah, good. Let me just get some things off of here, change my tune. This dish is our dish today. This is swordfish with shrimp, and I went a little, I kind of put a couple of other components in here. Put some calamari, I want to add some calamari to this dish, but actually this is a dish that's influenced by a dish that I had years ago in Sicily. Swordfish is very, very popular in Sicily. You may know of tuna, the tuna is fished around Trapani. Trapani is on the West Coast of Sicily. And tuna is a big, big seafood item for them, for the fishermen there. There's tuna festivals. There's very ancient, ancient traditions of how they fish for the tuna. But the swordfish comes from the Straits of Messina, and that is between Sicily and mainland Italy. And the swordfish is excellent. It's abundant and it's one of the fish that you commonly see. It's very popular on the grill. It's very popular and they do all kinds of things with it. They even make roll-ups, little roll-ups, swordfish stuffed with things and then pan-fried. But this dish is really a pasta dish with seafood, and the swordfish that we get is also excellent here on the East Coast, West Coast. Swordfish is one of my favorite fish. It's a delicious fish, it's a steak fish, so for people who don't like fish with bones. It works great on the grill. I love swordfish on the grill. I'm just going to take the skin off. There's a little skin, and I'll show you, this little dark spot, there's nothing wrong with that. That's a little bit of a bloodline from the fish itself, but I'm just going to take that off. And what's different about this is how we handle the swordfish now. I'm going to cut the swordfish into chunks, slicing it. Now I'm going to cut it into really a dice, sort of a dice, about a half inch, 3/4 of an inch. And then what we're going to do next with it is we're going to put it in a bowl and sprinkle a little salt on it and put a little lemon juice. And what's really unique about that is that's something that they do a lot in Sicily is now we see crudo on seafood menus all the time, and Sicily is really the place where this is very popular. Crudo, raw fish, raw fish that's been marinated, not just like sushi, but marinated with olive oil and herbs, and very, very common to see that, especially in the warmer months. Like all over the Mediterranean, there's fishing fleets, and these small fishing fleets’ fish for what is abundant, what's in season, and old techniques are very, very, very common. You've seen the photographs of the harbor with small boats. Well, those fishing boats go out at night for anchovies and sardines and swordfishes, fish there in the Straits of Messina. So here, I'm going to put a little bit of lemon juice,

Caitlin - Chef?

Michael - Yeah?

Caitlin -How long do you let the fish rest before you cook it?

Michael - So, 30 minutes is good. I'm not going to get a chance to do that now, but I didn't want to cut up the fish ahead of time. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to show you everything. Now, the fish, of course, is going to actually transform a little bit with the addition of the lemon and a little bit of salt. Let's put some salt, this is a little bit of salt, and this marination, let's let that marinate. I'm going to add some shrimp to this. These are just peeled shrimp. These are fresh shrimp. These shrimp are from North Carolina. So, that was kind of a nice thing to be able to get in my local market. Let me take off the tails. I peeled them, I deveined them, but I'm going to take off the tails. I'm leaving the shrimp whole, but we'll take the tails off. I think that cooking out of the marketplace is probably the thing that's the most fun when you actually can, when you can get to a market. Maybe that's something that we miss right now, but even going to the green market in New York or all of the green markets in California, see what's abundant, what's fresh. You would marinate that for about 30 minutes, but I'll do something else while we let that marinate. I'll cut a little calamari. This is all clean. Just some calamari rings, you could add-

Caitlin - Chef?

Michael - Yeah?

Caitlin - What fish would you recommend instead of swordfish? Would salmon or snapper also work?

Michael -Snapper would be good. Snapper would be good, salmon would work, sure. Tuna would work if you had wanted to put tuna, fresh tuna. There's quite a bit of it around in the summer from the East Coast, from Montauk or from Maine. I'm actually going to add the calamari right to that seafood. So the thing is, is being able to create your own dish. I encourage that, that's why I got some calamari. I wanted to add some. I also have some head-on shrimp. These are beautiful shrimp, kind of remind me of what the Mediterranean seafood might look like. So we'll add that to this dish, also. Let's start going with this. Let's put a little olive oil in here.

Caitlin - Chef, are you marinating the shrimp and swordfish together or separately?

Michael - Together, because they're going to go into the same dish together, they're going to go together at the same time, so I'm not going to keep them for a long time, and I don't mind marinating them together. Because I cut the swordfish into chunks and the shrimp are small, that's what I recommended in the recipe to have small shrimp. And now with the lemon juice, they're sort of marinating like a crudo would marinate. The lemon juice is there sort of, they're kind of cooking in the lemon juice and a little bit of salt. I'm going to add just a touch more. We could add some pepper to this, too, and we'll let that marinate for a few minutes. See, looks good, I don't know, you kind of can see that, right? They started to change color from the lemon juice already. This dish that stayed in my mind, I started to say before, was a dish that I had of pasta, with swordfish, and zucchini, and also they don't let anything go to waste. The zucchini stems are flavorful. We don't see that here, but there, they use them, and they use the stems that the zucchini grows on, the actual stem of the zucchini, they use that. They call it, and they put that in, too, as a vegetable, into a dish like this. So I'm getting my pan a little hot. Now I like to go to a wooden board and do everything else right here. I have my zucchini that's going to go next. First, we're going to get the seafood in. Now you can marinate the seafood for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator, but we didn't get a time. I wanted you to see everything from start to finish. I didn't want to step out the dish. I'm trying not to take any of the lemon juice. I'm leaving the lemon juice behind. That's some olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, not a great one. When I cook with olive oil, I even use not extra virgin. I use pure olive oil for cooking very often, especially if I'm doing frying. But in this case, there's not much oil now, just enough to sauté these. And let's get that going. And this cooks very quickly. It's a hot pan. We want to get that to a nice opaque. I don't want to overcook it. I don't want the swordfish to fall apart. You see how quickly the shrimp are cooking. The calamari is cooked just about. What I'm going to do in a moment is I'm going to take it out of this pan, and I'm going to then cook my... I'm going to put it in a bowl. Let me put this here. And I'm going to slice some zucchini now, which you can see. Let me just park this here for a moment.

Caitlin - Now, for a few questions. Would you be able to use avocado or grape seed oil, or would that change the flavor of the dish?

Michael - Grape seed oil would be the oil I would use, right? Avocado oil, I'm not so sure about, but grape seed oil has a great smoke point and it would be wonderful for this.

Caitlin - And how hot do you have the pan? Do you have it set on high, medium?

Michael - I have the pan up high right now, and I'm just slicing my zucchini about a little bit less than 1/4 of an inch thick. And if you find small zucchini, not necessarily baby zucchini or young zucchini, but I was really looking for small zucchini in the market today, and I found just the kind of zucchini I wanted. And now we're just going to take the seafood out. Let's turn that off for a moment and let's take all the seafood right out.

Caitlin - a quick question back to the olive oil, is there a reason why you would just cook with pure olive oil instead of the extra virgin kind?

Michael - Yeah, because extra virgin is so expensive. I mean, it is. And when you cook extra virgin, the qualities of extra virgin oil tend to slip away from the heat. They tend to cook off. So, I'm always careful about what kind of oil I might use when I'm doing things like frying or I'm doing some shallow frying, not deep frying, but shallow frying. But extra virgin, which is why I have another bottle of it, this extra virgin is a Sicilian extra virgin, it's a lovely oil. That's a great finishing oil for a salad or for a dish like this. We're going to finish our pasta, when it's all plated, we're going to finish our pasta with a little bit of that.

Caitlin - and how long did we cook the seafood for?

Michael - I would say that was about three minutes. I'm going to put a little more oil in here. So this is a blended extra virgin. What does that mean? So extra virgin, where does it come from? Okay, it comes from Italy or does it come from Spain or does it come from the Mediterranean? So you'll see some extra virgin oils that are less expensive because they've been blended from all over Italy, or they have oil from Morocco and Greece blended in. So those are the oils that I tend to use when I'm cooking. I'm going to put my zucchini, I put a little oil in there just now, and the pan was hot to begin with, so now I'm putting my zucchini in. Kind of tomatoes, they're really a cherry tomato, but in Italy or in the South of France or in Spain, but particularly on the Mediterranean side of France, in Provence and in Italy, you'll see clusters of these on the vine, hanging at the front doors of people's homes. They give them a little more sun when they get them home, and the sun adds more flavor and takes some of the moisture out, and intensifies the flavor, just a lovely tomato. I'm just going to cut these, they're a little big, and so I'm going to cut them in quarters. If they were smaller, I would cut them in half. So this is not a tomato sauce, this is using tomatoes in the dish as a vegetable or a fruit, whatever you would like to call it, but it's a component.

Caitlin - We have two more questions that came in. When you are sautéing the seafood, do you not stir it or flip it? You kind of just let it cook through?

Michael - Wait, with the sound of the pan, I wasn't able to hear you. Just one second. I'm here.

Caitlin - Sure.

Michael - Repeat that, please.

Caitlin - So when you were cooking the seafood, did you not need to stir or flip it? It just cooks through on its own?

Michael - Yes, in fact, almost anything you do, the less you do to it, is that's the better side of happiness. The joy of cooking is the less you handle it. Because every time you move it around, it actually cools down. So you're interrupting the cooking process.

Caitlin - Chef, how important is it to use cherry tomatoes, or are there other tomatoes you can use?

Michael - There's so many tomatoes. The fact is now, when we get towards, when we get into late summer, there are so many tomatoes, you can substitute any tomato that you like. If it means cutting it into smaller, if it means cutting a larger tomato into chunks or a dice, that's perfect. Let's just chop some garlic. Yeah, absolutely. A little garlic goes in, not much. In fact, so much of Sicilian cooking doesn't have garlic. Now my seafood is going back in and I'm turning the heat down to low. I just put the fish back in with the vegetables. I barely cooked the zucchini. I browned it on one side. I want to keep the integrity of the zucchini. You can see some of the pieces are nice and brown, but I didn't want to overcook them. I don't want them to fall apart. I want it to stay nice and fresh. We have a little bit of red chili flakes. Oh, oopa. So I have a little bit of red chili flakes. Let's put that in, just a little bit. Now I'll season it again with some pepper and not too much salt, easy on the salt, on seafood especially. That's why I grind my salt so I'm not just putting in a large quantity. I'm using a grinder to be able to control that. Now, it's on very low. We're just going to let that finish cooking together. So I did something this afternoon, because I couldn't help myself. I made pasta. So the recipe says spaghetti. It doesn't have to be spaghetti. It can be another pasta, another shape, whatever it turns you on. But I just felt like making pasta. So I made pasta. Now this is pasta ala chitarra, and I wanted to show you this, 'cause it's fun. So that's like a square-cut spaghetti. I mean, it's actually square, it's not round. It's not extruded, it was cut by hand on this. Its wires. Chitarra in English is guitar, so it has wires. And I made my pasta, and this pasta I made without eggs, its egg free, it's just semolina flour and water. Two cups of flour, about 2/3 of a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of olive oil, that's all I did. And I made the pasta and then I cut after it rested and I was able to roll it out, I cut it on the chitarra. You lay the pasta on here and then you run a roller over it or use the back of the knife, or you use a plastic spatula to run the pasta through, and it cuts it, square-cut pasta, and square-cut spaghetti. So that's my pasta that I'm making today. I'm going to add a little salt to the water.

Caitlin - Chef, how much pasta do you recommend per serving? And we have Jason in the audience who loves the chitarra, thinks it's beautiful.

Michael - You know, how much pasta in a serving, are you talking to me? I mean, I can eat some pasta, but a pound is an ample, is more than enough for four people, and maybe even six. So I keep going back to Italy 'cause I kind of would like to be there right now, but I'm here with you and I'm having a great time. I hope you are, too. In Italy, the pasta, which they eat almost every day, the portions are tiny. They're really small, a cup cooked. It's really a matter of taste. I'm just adding some salt to this. Make your make your pasta water salty. Now the recipe says cook the seafood, cook the pasta. Then we'll drain the pasta and put the pasta in a bowl. But I'm going to show you how we finish it in a restaurant, really. So this is, well, I would call that two portions of pasta. That's what I would say. It's two hearty portions, too. This is fresh pasta, so it'll cook very quickly. Fresh pasta made without eggs is very common in Southern Italy. It's very, very common. So we'll just cook that. That'll cook in two to three minutes. Seafood is done. Do you have more questions?

Caitlin - Yes, we had somebody asked, how long did you cook the vegetables?

Michael - Three and a half minutes maybe, four, probably three.

Caitlin - Great, and then somebody else asked if they should be marinating their fish or seafood with parsley?

Michael - So the parsley is going to go at the end, and I have some right here. I wouldn't do that, because I'm going to use the parsley. Parsley is one of those things that you see everywhere, but flat leaf parsley is so full of flavor that when we use it at the end, it gives it a chance to release that flavor. So I want to show you the pasta's really cooking lovely. It's really nice. It's floating to the top.

Caitlin - We have a question about cooking your pasta. Well, we have two questions. One, when you're making homemade pasta, how thin do you roll it out?

Michael - So I rolled it by hand. I did not use a pasta machine, but if you were rolling it on a pasta machine, you would want to get it down, you would start at 10, which is the widest setting, and then you would probably want to get it down to two or three. One is just too thin. It'll really fall apart on you. But two is really the place you want to be, but then you've got to do it step-by-step. You roll your pasta at 10, then you roll it at nine, then you roll in at eight. And for me, I just used my rolling pin, and here it is, my rolling pin. That's my mom's rolling.

Caitlin -And then for a first-time pasta maker, what's the best flour to use?

Michael - Many pasta recipes call for all-purpose flour, and that works just fine. If you could get semolina flour, I think you'll like the results better. So instead of draining this at the sink, I'm putting this right into my dish, my pan, my pasta is going right in.

Caitlin - Chef, do you add oil to your water while cooking your pasta?

Michael - No, I do not. The only thing the oil would do is keep the foaming down, but no, it's not a good thing. Just salted water that is all you really should do. Now this is the kind of a dish that I like the most in the summer. It is pasta, yes, but it's pasta with seafood and it seems very satisfying without being too heavy. The swordfish did not break up. That's so nice, that's what you want. You want the swordfish to stay whole. You don't want to overcook it where it starts to fall apart. The zucchini and the vegetables together. There's still another portion in the pan. Let me just clean this for you.

Caitlin - Just a general question, Chef, about your knives. How do you sharpen them?

Michael - So, I have a stone. I do have a stone. I sharpen knives with a stone, but I don't sharpen them often, but I use a steel often, or this way or this way. I think this is the safest way to use a steel. And you want to have the blade at about a 20-degree angle to the steel. And what the steel does, is it just restores the edge. If a knife is really dull, then you need to put it on the stone. And if you use it a lot, you need to do that. Once or twice a year, you need to put it on the stone. But a steel, we use all day in the kitchen.

Caitlin - Do you use any of the pasta water to add to the seafood dish for finishing?

Michael - Yeah, so if it were dry, I would add pasta water, and even in your recipe, it calls for adding a little pasta water to the dish. If you finish in the pan, you can add pasta water. As I took it out of the hot water and added it to the seafood, it took some water with it, and that was a-plenty, that was plenty. Don't put too much of the water on it. I have some basil, we'll add some fresh basil to this, which I rarely chop, I tend to tear little things by hand, a little basil, and this would call for a little bit of olive oil, just a little. The flavor of the olive oil finishes the dish. Oh, and this, you may not have seen this before, but, so these are breadcrumbs, I just toasted bread crumbs. I toasted bread crumbs in a dry pan in about 35 seconds. Breadcrumbs in a dry pan, no oil, no butter, nothing, and this is very, very commonly seen in Sicily as a substitute for cheese because we don't put cheese on seafood, really, on our seafood pastas or our seafood dishes, and the breadcrumbs add texture. You might say they add more calories, but I'm just going to put a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, toasted bread crumbs. That's something you'll see. When you go to Sicily, you will see that. So here's our pasta, seafood, swordfish, and shrimp. And I added a little calamari, 'cause it looked really good today, and with our tomatoes and zucchini. And let me put these here. How's that, is that a shot? Is that something you can see? Is it better there?

Caitlin - You want to hold it a little closer to your back camera so that we can see it, hold it up to the back camera that would be great.

Michael - How's that?

Caitlin - Good, and then, Mike, I have a personal question for you. Who taught you how to cook and where does your passion for cooking come from?

Michael - Cooking is the greatest thing I ever could imagined doing with my life. And so food, growing up in an Italian-American household, in the summer, we grew so many vegetables, tomato, eggplant, peppers, basil, parsley. We even had fruit trees. We had peach trees. I mean, there was always an abundance of food that we grew ourselves in the summer. We canned our own tomatoes in the fall. But really, I really think that food is really a way to connect with people, and that food is not just the meal we share or the time that we share, and it doesn't have to be expensive. It could be a sandwich, something simple, but food is sort of a common denominator where we can share with people something, and sharing the table is something that has always resonated with me. So when I decided that I would be a chef, I went to City University has a technical college and that's where I spent a year and a half in school. And actually, my first job out of school was in an Italian restaurant. And I worked in an Italian restaurant while I was going to school, I should say. While I was in school, I worked my way through school, I worked nights, and I went to school in the day. I just find that cooking is just such a generous thing that we can do for each other. So if I can cook for you, it makes me feel great. It just is to see you satisfied or to see you enjoy or for us to talk about it. It's something that really, really excites me. It's really my passion. So, we had some wines, just some wines, and we had the white Zinfandel, which I think would be great, or the Occhipinti, which is a great white wine works with the seafood. But I also brought out two other wines, red wines. And so this one, this is called the Contrada. This is from a winery in Sicily, and actually, you're going to love this name though. So this is Passopisciaro. Passopisciaro is the name of the winery, and Contrada 2014, this actually is Sciaranuova. Well, here's the thing about this wine. I do really like this wine. It is a red wine, its nerello mascalese. Its light, it's herbal. It has some really great qualities to it that would pair really well with this seafood dish. It's also, and I have no connection to this winery, but my father came here in the '20s from Italy, but this is from his hometown on the slopes of Mount Etna. So, Etna has become a central point in Sicilian winemaking because of the lava rocks. The soil itself is so, so rich in minerals, and so that's a fun wine. And this is a fun wine from California. Again, this one is an Italian grape, Nebbiolo, but it's from California, and there are great wines out of California that are using not just Cabernet or Pinot or Chardonnay, but using things like Nebbiolo, and this one Idlewild, Idlewild like the old airport in New York, Fox Hill Vineyards. So this Nebbiolo is a very light style Nebbiolo and would just be, I think if you have to have a red wine with any of this, I think these two would be fun. Wine and food, food and wine. Of course, there's spirits and there's beer, but wine and food was probably the thing that drew me to cooking, was the ability to be able to experience wine and food in a setting. And I've had great experiences. In my early days, I worked at Le Cirque, I even worked with Danielle Boulud. The passion for food comes I think to people and people get moved to try to do things, to try to do things in the food world, and there's enormous opportunities. We're in a strange time, there's no denying that. I'm a believer that we all, we're going to get through this together. We're going to get through. The world that we're in now is changing us, but it'll change us, we'll adapt, we'll adopt the things, the practices that we have to do. And the idea of being able to cook again for you at any one of my restaurants is something I'm really thrilled about. Do we have more questions?

Brian - Well, this has been fantastic, Chef Lomonaco. We thank you so much for the wonderful cooking demonstrations today, the great sage advice and words, there at the end especially. I'm sure our audience is excited to try everything you've made at home. I know I am. And as a reminder for the group, this session was recorded. The playback will be available on our website. We want to thank everyone once again for attending today. Really enjoyable experience, for sure. We want to thank everybody, and be well. Goodbye, chef.

Michael - Thank you all, thank you.

Brian - Thank you. Have a good evening.

Michael - Thank you.

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