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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

its-all-about-the-guest-cover“I’ve eaten a lot of sophisticated food in my time, but I still love a good hot dog.” That’s how the book starts, in chapter 1, appropriately named “Passion”. Steve DiFillippo’s new book, It’s All About the Guest: Exceeding Expectations in Business and in Life the Davio’s Way, is a page turner. The book talks about how at 24, DiFillippo bought his first restaurant and since then he has built a $50 million restaurant brand group.

At the end of every chapter there are “Restaurant Lessons to Live By”, summary points of the chapter:

If you don’t have a passion for eating and feeding people, don’t bother trying to become a restauranteur. You’ll never make it.

If you really do have a passion for something, then don’t waste time. Get cracking – everything else you need will fall into place.

Establishing trust is fundamental to all business relationships.

You don’t have to be perfect.

Addressing guest complaints should be a core part of any company’s service culture.

Listen to your guests and provide what they want – even if you don’t like it. But make sure that you stay true to your brand.

Skip the arrogance. People starting a business need all the help they can get. None of us knows it all.

Don’t be a jerk to your team members.

If your workplace could be a reality TV show, the friend, you are doing something wrong.

Take the time to bond with team members, not merely police their performance.

Speak out, stand up, raise your hand. Stirring the pot can benefit you in ways you never imagined.

Sometimes it takes  a little while to learns from your mistakes. But until you do, mistakes keep happening.

Here are some recipes from the book:

View More: Bolognese:

Cook 1/4 pound prosciutto, diced, in a large pot until crispy. Add one finely chopped garlic clove, one large diced onion, one diced carrot, and one or two diced celery stalks, and cook for 4 minutes.Then add 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground pork, and 1 pound veal and cook thoroughly, making sure that it is all mixed well. Add one bay leaf and cook ingredients together for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Next add in 2 (32 ounce) cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes that you’ve crushed by hand and reduce heat to low, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Leave it likes this for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, prepare 1 to 1/2 pounds of pasta according to the package direction (we love tagliatelle or rigatoni for this dish) add 2 ounces of pasta water to the bolognese sauce as well as 2 tablespoons of butter. Mix a small amount of the bolognese sauce into the cooked pasta, then top with the remaining sauce. Serve right away!

View More: Gnocchi:

This recipe makes 125 gnocchi, so make sure to invite some friends over. Boil 2 1/4 pounds russet potatoes until tender. Drain the water, ad then while the potatoes are still hot, peel and put them through a ricer. Set aside, and let them cool through and through. (Little tip: This can be done the day before.) On a large board form a “mountain” with the cooled and riced potatoes. Add 1 1/2 cups sifted flour, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Make a hole at the top of the mountain and add 2 medium eggs into the whole. Working by band from the eggs out, begin mixing eggs with the potato and other ingredients until well blended. Cover the mixture with a slightly damp cloth or a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Come back and roll the dough by hand into eight – 2 foot long rolls, about the size of a quarter in diameter. Then cut each roll into 1/2 inch pieces. Delicately dust the pieces with flour and place them in a plastic container. Make sure there’s only one layer per container and each piece has plenty of breathing room! Cover and freeze  until ready to cook. (Another tip: Once gnocchi are frozen, they can be transferred into ziplock bags so you don’t have a bunch of plastic containers all piled up in your freezer. Oh, and gnocchi can be kept frozen up to 1 month.)

When you’re ready to cook, take some gnocchi out of the freezer and bring 12 quarts salted water to a rapid boil. Add your gnocchi and then cover and cook until the water return to a boil. I’s try using more than one pot when cooking, and I also advise that you cook only a handful of gnocchi at a time. If you jam too many together, you wind up with a watery potato soup! Now uncover the gnocchi and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the gnocchi begins to float. Strain, add your favorite sauce, and serve immediately in a warm bowl.

View More: Meatballs and Marinara Sauce:

You want meatballs? Okay, here goes. You need a good marinara sauce on hand in order to cook meatballs, so let’s start there.

Put 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Monini preferred) in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Then add 1/2 cup finely chopped Spanish onion and saute until translucent. Add 3 finely chopped cloves fresh garlic and cook until the garlic is a light golden color. Whatever you do, don’t overcook the garlic! The add 1 cup white wine to deglaze the pan. Continue to cook the garlic until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 – 4 minutes. Next, pour in 4 (28 ounce) cans of San Marzano tomatoes that you’ve crushed by hand. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, stir, and reduce heat to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1/4 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves. Congratulations: You now have some killer sauce to work with.

Next come the meatballs. In a large bowl soak 1 loaf of stale bread, broken into small pieces, in 2 cups of whole milk for 2 hours. Over medium-high heat, saute 1 diced white onion and 2 diced cloves garlic. Add the sauteed onions and garlic to the soaked bread and cobine with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (Monini preferred), 2 pounds ground Kobe beef, 2 pounds ground veal, 2 pounds ground pork, 1/2 cup grated Parmigano cheese, 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 cup chopped basil and 6 whole eggs. Mix all this stuff together, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, take the bowl out of the refrigerator and form the mixture into approximately 20 (3 ounce) balls. Over medium – high heat in a large pan, cook the meatballs in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for 10 minutes making sure that the meatballs are spread out i the pan and don’t touch one another. Turn them often so they don’t burn. Remove the meatballs from the pan and cool. Place the cooled meatballs in another large pan and cover them with 3/4 of a gallon of the marinara sauce you made earlier. Wrap the pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, cook the meatballs and the sauce for at least 3 hours at 325 degrees before serving.

View More:

Warm Chocolate Cake:

It’s easy to forget to preheat the oven, so make sure to do that first. A full 375 degrees, with a high fan on. Noe, take 12 1/2 cups aluminum tins and coat well with nonstick spray and flour. Grab a 9 1/2 ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate (I use 60/40 Callebaut) and pour it into a mixing bowl – we’ll need this in just a second. Melt 10 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter and pout it over chocolate to melt it. In another large mixing bowl, sift 5 1/4 ounces of pastry flour and 10 1/2 ounces confectioners sugar together. Add in 6 whole eggs and 6 egg yolks and mix until smooth. Then combine the flour/sugar bowl with the chocolate/butter bowl – stir and stir until homogenous. Deposit the chocolatey goodness into the prepared tins and then put the tins into the over. Bake approximately 10 minutes or until the edges are set. When you remove the cakes from the oven, let them sit briefly so that they unmold on their own.

Check out Steve’s book for more stories and additional recipes. It’s All About the Guest can be found at bookstores and at Amazon.

**Disclaimer – I was provided with a copy of the book, all opinions are strictly my own. I was not compensated in any other way for writing this post.

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