The Sophistication Of Simplicity
At Hartford House, every dish is prepared with great attention to detail not only in the technique but also in the art of sourcing the best local ingredients. One of our great friends Marco Nico has blessed our kitchen team with the most remarkable charcuterie allowing them the freedom to create memorable dishes or simply served on its own for you our patrons to enjoy.
We asked Marco to share his story with you!
The thing that got to me most about being a chef for close to 35 years is the amount of time that one would spend preparing a meal. I could work on a meal for days, getting each of the components just right and then on the day of a particular function it was all over in the course of an hour. Although the meal was inevitably well received, I could never really get my head around the fact that the amount of effort put into a meal never quite lived up to the amount of reward. I remember as a kid, when I was on holiday in Italy visiting my Grandparents and we would go out for lunch, a meal would start at 1pm and seldom finish before 4:30pm in the afternoon. I was always striving in my restaurants for this reward.
However, alas, with quick customer service expectations, and always having to keep up with the latest food fashions I seemed to lose the sophistication of simplicity that I had always believed in. I had started this way but somewhere along the way I had lost what I as a chef really believed in. After some 28 years, I gave up cooking and decided to search deep into my profession to try to find what it was that I was always looking for.
On a trip into the Natal Midlands, I met a man that would re-awaken my passion for slow food. This came in the form of one of the oldest techniques known to the art of cooking, charcuterie. I took to it like a duck to water, here was an avenue of my profession that took months and sometime years to produce, however the end rewards always justified the effort put into producing the product. The fact that here were meats that were cut so thin and weighed almost nothing per slice, and then when placed onto ones tongue, melted and burst with flavour, always reminding me of a bygone era in food that was refreshingly familiar.
I could make this stuff! I could become acquainted with each piece, remembering receiving the farm cuts I would set the alchemy in motion transforming them into fine charcuterie. This journey allowed me to watch my work mature from infancy, through adolescence and finally to full maturity. Sending them on to their final destination I know that there will be chefs and customers who will take these works and thinly slice, savour and appreciate what I had so lovingly created, slowly. These products have longevity and therefore in my mind's eye I can see them in ones fridge constantly reminding their owners that this is a work of time, meant to be savoured!
I hope you enjoy my passion.
Charcuterie Platter / Vancouver Sun (p)