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Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - October 25, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Who is the American-Italian celebrity chef known for his Chef Panisse and Oliveto restaurants, as well as a curemaster for traditional Italian cured meats?

For years, he made celebrated food as the star chef at Chez Panisse (1982-1992) and then Oliveto (1995-2005). In 1985, he was included in Esquire’s register of Men and Women Under 40 who are changing the nation, and chosen as an honoree in “Who’s Who of Cooking in America,” a national award designed to pay tribute to 25 individuals who are most directly involved in shaping, refining, and improving American cuisine.

Awards include Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine in 1989, GQ’s Favorite Chef and Golden Dish Awards in 1996, Wine Spectator’s Top Italian Restaurants.  In 2001, he received the prestigious James Beard Foundation Restaurant Award for Best Chef in California.

At the height of his culinary acclaim in 2006, however, he decided to return to the artisanal roots of cooking with the launch of his own food company, Fra’ Mani.

For the past 20 years, he has been working to deepen his knowledge and skill in the production of traditional Italian cured meats through frequent sojourns to the production facilities in the Parma and Modena area of Italy.  He has also completed a series of courses in meat science and relevant aspects of cured meat production at Iowa State’s Meat Science Laboratory.

He calls himself the curemaster of his food company, Fra’ Mani.  But his reach is broader than overseer of fermented food products.  His goal is to orchestrate Americans back to the taste of meat before agribusiness industrialized the food supply.

“I realized that the delicatessen case had shrunk to the trinity of ham, roast beef, and white turkey.  Large meat processors controlled how animals were treated with confined spaces and what products were sold out,” he says.  “Old-world sausage makers were dying out. I wanted to make naturally cured meats.”

As curemaster, he has built relationships with family farmer groups that follow the highest animal husbandry standards, and he purchases meat only from sustainable sources. His selection criteria targets animals that are born and raised in the US with 100 percent vegetarian diets, and without antibiotics, added hormones or growth promotants.

He has also written several books: Chez Panisse Cooking in 1988, and Cooking By Hand, which contains a substantial chapter on cured meats in 2003.  Another book, Cooking by Hand, received an IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals Award), which recognizes excellence in cookbook writing.

* * *

Last week’s question: Who is the Czech, born US architect who is recognized as the father of Modern Architecture in Japan with projects like the Imperial Hotel, the Reader’s Digest Building in Tokyo, and the Nagoya International School?

Answer: Antonin Raymond

Winner:  Ivy Rose E. Dacasin of Sta. Cruz, Manila

ANTONIN RAYMOND BEST CHEF CHEF OF THE YEAR CHEF PANISSE AND OLIVETO CHEZ PANISSE COOKING BY HAND DACASIN OF STA FAVORITE CHEF AND GOLDEN DISH AWARDS
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