Interview with Michelle Minori of Barzotto San Francisco

What was your first memory of cooking and what did you cook?

When I was a kid I would puree fruits and veggies and make summer soup for my family.

What is a knife you cannot live without?

My Takayuki butcher knife. It was a gift to to me from my first chef and now mentor Ron Boyd. It’s got a perfect angle and handle for lots of different butchery and it’s like an extension of my hand.

What is one ingredient you cannot cook without?  What is one dish you cannot live without?

I believe in really good olive oil. It’s not only healthy (in moderation of course), but it can add so much balance and zest to a dish while its fat lends a beautiful mouthfeel. I really like using cold pressed organic olive oil, and try to stay local whenever I can, which is usually pretty easy in the Bay Area.

What was one of the biggest mistakes you made your first year out of school?

I’d have to say talking back. The first kitchens I trained in were all Michelin level and I learned respect and discipline right away. I learned that it was honorable to respect your craft and strive to always be better while still enjoying the company of my peers.

When did you know you wanted to become a chef?

I dropped out of college and signed up for culinary school without telling my mom. Luckily I found out I was good at cooking and fell in love with the industry. I knew I wanted to be a chef when I realized nothing else would bring such fulfillment to my life and it was a good way for me to mentor others.

What was your first role as a chef?

Being a chef is about bringing your team together. Being a sous chef at flour and water taught me how to bring out the best in everyone and it was a pleasure being surrounded with such eager and talented cooks there.

Who has been the most influential mentor/chef in your career?

Ever since I met and worked with Chef Kim Alter 10 years ago at Aqua, I have admired her drive, passion, and work ethic. She has the utmost respect for her craft and the ingredients she sources. Also, she is fiery and commands greatness. I like that about her.

What is your favorite after work drink?

Italian G+T

What is your favorite pasta dish on the menu?

I really like the cresta de gallo. It’s the only vegan pasta on the menu right now. The toasted almonds add a nice crunch and the noodle is interesting; not something you see everyday.

What is your favorite local spot?

I love being able to visit Nopa late night after work. It’s such a fun place. The vibe is friendly, the space is great, and the food is always so good. To top it off they really care about where they source their ingredients and the cooks always look happy.

Tell us something that would surprise people about you? 

I played classical violin for 10 years…And I don’t have a kitchen at home.

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