Showing posts with label Guy Arnone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guy Arnone. Show all posts

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Italy's Most Recognized & Famous Butcher, Dario Cecchini Coming To New York & Boston

At a time when culinary arts are heavily watched on such mainstream shows and networks like Top Chef, and Food Network, there is one thing constant and missing from each of these shows, although the contestants are cooking and claim to be culinary experts, do they know the basics of traditional food preparation, production and growth? Famous Italian butcher, Dario Cecchini is that man who has maintained an old world tradition or shall I say an art form of a lost culinary tradition of butchery. His skills prove to be next to none and has cultivated his craft where now it must be shared with those who lack this education.

One thing I learned from my early childhood trips to Italy was the value of such traditions and arts. My aunt and uncle owned a butcher shop in our local town, and quite frankly as some things were gruesome to see the way in which you learn the food process is raw. The way an animal is fed reflects the end result of the quality of meat. Granted, I'm not so much of a meat eater, but I struggle everyday with eating meat here in the United States, because I want to know where my meat is coming from.. which is impossible to know. In Italy, you may have that privilege of knowing where your local butcher grows his livestock. I mean its a direct hit on knowing what you're eating. Unfortunately, here in America we have no education on food and where and what the process of producing food is, this is the major difference in food education.

A while ago, a friend of mine from California, Guy Arnone wrote a guest article here on IAG about his family business which happened to be the family restaurant. He was expressing his need and desire to learn more about food, the process, the organic ways of life. At one point on his blog he started documented his newly grown garden to show his passion for home grown produce. This is a further down generation of an Italian American trying to directly connect with his roots and he went full plunge. Shortly after several posts, Guy decided to leave the family business and headed to Italy to study under Dario Cecchini as an apprentice. He wanted to learn the basics, the ropes, the supreme way of a lost art. Guy spent some time in Italy learning all of it and came back to New York, where he is now working for EATALY in New York City. Guy will be appearing with Dario for these latest appearances in New York and Boston. If you want to learn from the best and get a glimpse into a lost culinary art form go to these appearances.

For more on this event:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Italian American Chef & Restauranteur, GUY ARNONE Shares A Family Recipe & Talks Reality....

La Porchetta

This September marks the twelve years since I first stepped foot onto Italian soil as a teenager looking to find my heritage. Little did I know that over a decade later I would just be scratching the surface.

As the years passed I learned to speak the language and I opened my own Italian restaurant that is your typical red sauce joint with big pasta bowls and loud Italian music. My trip to Italy as a teen was quickly becoming just something I did a while back. A collection of fun stories to tell the customers over dessert.

Then about a year ago, around the same time I was celebrating the eleventh year since I had first gone to Italy, the economy took a dive and took many of my customers with it. The realization set in that I was in danger of losing my restaurant and I would have to cut back to make ends meet. How would I stretch out what I had? How do I compete with the big chain restaurants? How would I survive?

Sitting in the empty dining room after closing I racked my brain for ideas. Looking at the black and white picture of my long lost Italian family I began to imagine them and the romantic stories I had told time and time again to my guests. Stories of turn of the century poverty and the food that sustained them through the decades. That's when it hit me. So much of our heritage has been centered around survival during tough times. Now in some poetic way my own personal survival would depend on me learning about the one thing I had been chasing down my entire life. My roots.

The last year has been the toughest and most exciting year of my professional life. By turning to my friends and family both in Italy and in here the states I have been reminded of the basic principles of my Italian heritage in relation to cooking; Don't waste anything, and don't take short cuts.

Over the past months I have poured over cookbooks new and old. I've made countless calls to Italy with recipe questions. I grew my own vegetable garden. I've even began learning to butcher the cuts of meat I serve to cut costs and maximize quality.

These ups and downs have pushed me to better understand my roots as an Italian American and as a chef. I have a new found pride in my work as an extension of who I am and an appreciation for those who over the many years have brought a perfection to the traditions born from struggle. To be Italian is to understand and appreciate the craft of the artisan!

So here I am a year later. I'm at work on my day off trying out another recipe that is new to me but has been around for centuries. I share my triumphs as well as my failures with my customers who now wait patiently for my next lesson in Italian Culinary Tradition. And you know what? The effort has paid off. Now I have an edge that the other restaurants near me just don't have. The customers know that what comes out of my kitchen has my passion behind it, and that my friends is very specifically ITALIAN!

One dish that has worked well for me over the past few months is La Porchetta! This is a relatively inexpensive dish that is delicious in both flavor and presentation.

Arnone's Porchetta

5 lbs Pork Loin- butterflied (have your butcher do this)
6 feet butchers twine. (ask your butcher if they've got any in the back. Usually they're pretty cool about giving you enough for the meat you've purchased.)
1 lb ground mild or hot Italian sausage
1 fennel bulb, centers removed and chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - steamed and set aside
1/4 lb Prosciutto
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
Steam your spinach and set aside to cool.
In a large hot saute pan add the olive oil. Add the fennel and saute until soft. Add sausage to the fennel and mix with a slotted spoon until the sausage is cooked. When done, use the slotted spoon to remove the sausage and fennel and leaving any excess grease.

Lay out your pork loin on a flat surface. Season with salt and pepper. When cool enough to handle evenly spread the sausage and fennel mix onto the loin. Next, lay the spinach on top of the sausage and fennel followed by the prosciutto.
Now comes the hard part, rolling and tying the loin. It's always good to have an extra pair of hands the first time you try this.

The best you can, roll up the pork loin. Once rolled up use the butcher twine to tie it tightly together every inch or so. Take any filling that may have slipped out the side and simply stuff it back in the ends.

Place the rolled and tied Porchetta on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 35-40minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Remove from oven, let rest for 15 minutes, cut the strings, slice and enjoy.

Viva La Porchetta and Forza Italia!


Visit Guy's blog at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Italian American Chef & Restauranteur, Guy Arnone, Talks Italian "Sauce."

Guy "Gaetano" Arnone 30, lives in Orange, California where he owns and operates his family's Italian restaurant, Arnone's Little Italy. After high school Guy sold his car and moved to Italy to discover what it really meant to be "Italian."

Over a decade later, Guy travels back and forth to Italy as much as possible to visit family and friends and to bring back what he learns to his cherished customers.

Arnone's Little Italy is a combination of Guy's favorite Italian American classics and beloved authentic Italian traditions. For more info on the restaurant go to

"Every Sauce Has Its Story"
I was five years old when I was first invited by my father to participate in making "The Sauce," but let's back up a bit.

It seems that every Italian American has "their own sauce" and it's always better then yours. It's generally a grandmother's recipe and it might contain a countless combination of ingredients including but not limited to ground pork, ground beef, pork ribs, pork neck bones, sausage, wine, no wine, tomato paste, no tomato paste, (if you get the "aggida" then you're best off skipping the paste).

Not only do we stand by our family recipes but we plant the flag of our origin into the sand like Columbus landing on the West Indies. Siciliano, Calabrese, Napolitano, we all have our very special sauce and a very deep pride in its preparation.

It was in this preparation of "The Sauce" that I found myself captivated as a child. Like a magic potion it was prepared without measurement. The base ingredients added by sight and taste along with key words that just make me laugh now that I work in a professional kitchen.
"A little bit of this, a handful of that, not too much of that. Sprinkle it on till there's a nice layer." Nice layer? How much is a nice layer?

Once everything is added it's time for the stirring to begin. "Keep stirring it!" Dad yells. "I'm stirring it!" I scream back. "He's stirring it!!" shouts a distant voice from the somewhere in the house if only to taunt Dad and add to the anxiety of the room.

Then there's the positioning of the lid. This is the most tense part of the recipe and much importance was put on the lid and its placement.

"You have to put the lid on at an angle! Not all the way on or it will BURN!" Dad would say while looking deep into my eyes as to permanently ingrain this information into my soul. He would also inform everyone in the house of this rule in case they felt the urge to taste the sauce without asking. If the lid is off the sauce will reduce too fast, but if left on all the way the heat will burn the sauce causing a bitter taste that will never come out. This has only happened twice in my life time, the worst being Christmas Day 1992. You never forget when the sauce was burned. It is a waste of a day, causes my father great stress and anger, and is a general sin against God.

So now that the ingredients are in the pot, it's been stirred, and we've all been scolded for something we haven't done yet, (or something my Mother hasn't done since Christmas Day 1992), we wait. You see the wait is the worst part. Once the sauce heats up the smell fills the house almost immediately but it will be hours until you get a shot at tasting it.
Sound familiar, Italian-Americans? I bet it does.

While my family recipe may not have the same ingredients as yours it does share something with all versions... The story.

When I went to Italy for the first time I was shocked that there was nothing like my family sauce anywhere. Even worse, they gave you pasta in little bowls not the giant ones we eat our pasta in at home. The reason for this is that in Italy pasta is the starter, where as in turn of the century America pasta was all many of our Italian families could afford. The recipe was never written down because you never knew what you would have from week to week. My family's sauce has more water in it then most, not because it was authentic to its Sicilian roots but because my great grandmother had to stretch it out amongst her eight children. Now what was once the only thing they had to eat has become our heritage.

Within each changing recipe is the resourcefulness of our ancestors making their way in a strange place. With every taste is a little snapshot of family dinners past. In every twirl of pasta there is a father teaching their child how to hold the fork, (and spoon). Our different recipes handed down by memory is our way of connecting with the past and tasting the same flavors as those who came before us. A real tangible way to touch the past.

I see this now in the food I've been introduced to by my co-workers from around the globe. Their flavors are little pieces of home. Tiny windows to their own past and longing for home.
So the next time you lay out your ingredients to make a nice pot of Sunday Sauce, take a minute to remember who taught you and how you're going to teach those to come. And if you're so lucky to have them around, tell them thank you for teaching you how to do it because no one can make it as good as them.

So here it is. My family's sauce. It's not the best. It's not the most Authentic. And its been changed over the years. But for me it never gets old and it's what has pushed me down the path that has led to an amazing life.

The Arnone Family Meat Sauce ~ feeds 4 - 6 people or 3-4 of my relatives.
1 Sauce pot with lid
1 240z Can Whole Tomatoes
2 150z Cans Tomato sauce (reserve cans)
16oz Pork Neck Bones or County Style Pork Ribs
1/2 Onion diced
2 tbsp Garlic Salt (plus some to taste)
1 tbsp Pepper (plus some to taste)
1 tsp Sugar
2 1/2 tbsp Italian Seasoning or (1 tbsp Died basil, 1 tbsp Oregano)
Pinch crushed red pepper
Put whole tomatoes in Sauce pot and crush with your hands.
Add tomato sauce then fill each 15oz can with water and add to pot.
Add dry ingredients until a nice (layer) is formed
Drop in pork.

Stir and put on high heat until sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and place lid on at an angle so that the steam is able to escape and the condensation is returned back into the sauce.
Stir every 15 minutes for 2 and a half hours. Enjoy with what ever pasta you prefer.

Buon Appetito!!

To read more about Guy's daily restaurant talk and recipes, go to: