I had the privilege to chat with Chef Antonia Lofaso during Taste Washington over a luncheon hosted by Medaglia d’Oro in the suite at Qwest Field. (It’s definitely a crazy view.) Talking about everything from coffee to living underneath Peter Luger, she reminded me strongly of my fonder memories from living on Long Island, especially when she imitated her father’s accent for his reaction to her working with Medaglia d’Oro.
Not only was she fantastic, but the espresso-themed luncheon put together by her and Chef Jon Severson was a delight, from a rubbed rack of lamb to espresso crème brulée. The only downside was being so full right before Taste Washington – that, and having to leave a table full of wonderful people swapping stories.
It was her first time in the city, and very short, with only long enough to host the Medaglia d’oro luncheon, host a lecture at Taste Washington, and then head back to Los Angeles. Still, any chef who is up for a fist bump over latkes is welcome back to Seattle any time in my book.
Jessica Tupper: Since you’re going to be seeing some of our awesome chefs, who from the Taste Washington chefs would you want to cook with if you had the chance?
Antonia Lofaso: I don’t know, I have to be honest. I don’t know who’s down there yet.
JT: I know there’s Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, Matt Brandsey from El Gaucho…
AL: What’s that?
JT: It’s old school steak, kind of like Peter Luger.
AL: Yes! I used to live underneath Peter Luger.
JT: What was that like?
AL: You have no idea. I lived in Williamsburg – literally, the building was right underneath it – and it was amazing.
JT: It must have smelled distracting.
AL: It was. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming. But that’s what I think is so brilliant about places like New York in general, they have those iconic restaurants that have been around for as long as they have. I feel like Los Angeles is just starting that now. We’re just getting our footing to have that historical idea of food.
JT: Are there any Pacific Northwest ingredients you’re wishing you could try?
AL: I use all your oysters. I have a big Pacific Northwest oyster selection where I am. We used the Skookums and you guys have really good Kumas that we bring down.
And your mushrooms are awesome.
JT: You also have The Busy Mom’s Cookbook that just came out recently. So is there anything you really want people to think about when they look at busy cooking?
AL: For me, it’s all about finding that balance. It’s trying to find that balance of stuff that you need to do on Wednesday that’s going to be a bit faster. And then to take that time on a Friday night, or a Sunday afternoon or whatever it is, to be more indulgent and make that time to cook, and really use the cookbook to build experiences and memories. That’s my biggest thing. My mom and dad were extremely busy parents – both of them worked, both of them took care of their children, they took care of a household, businesses, and they always cooked. It was having that busy lifestyle and making food part of it.
Do I use a jar of tomato sauce to make a bolognese on a Friday night because I need to get dinner on the table? Absolutely. Do I also make a killer homemade tomato sauce on Sundays when I have a little more time? Yeah. So the book is really trying to find that balance in your life so you can enjoy food and create those memories with friends, parents, grandparents, whatever it is.