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Zingerman’s Great Food Group Presents: An Interview with Rolando Beremendi

Rolando Beremendi holds a wheel of cheese to admire


What is Your Most Trusted Piece of Kitchen Equipment?
My chef’s knife … I never owned any type of food processor, or a blender, or anything electric to help me chop, whip or do anything… I chop, chop, chop. I think food tastes better when you slice, dice and chop with a good knife. Plus, I usually chant, and listen to my favorite music while I do so, and I firmly believe my food tastes better because of it. Its a form of saying GRACE!

Do you have a Favorite Recent Food Gift either Given or Received?
My dear friend Vincenzo Paterno’ di Spedalotto, producer of Tonda Iblea olive oil, brought me the honeys made by Carlo Amodeo from Black bees from Sicily, a Presidio Slow Food. They are surreal because the bees produce the honey in the Winter, while the other honey bees are dormant! They produce a honey from such rare blossoms that they are beyond any flavor you can imagine. They are so bitter, I think I am the only one who could love and enjoy such flavors… everyone is afraid of bitter!

Best Advice Given or Received?
My friend Arun, in India, when I was going to visit him in Goa, and I hadn’t heard from him in a long time, and I didn’t know how I was going to find his house! As I was boarding the plane in Delhi to go there he wrote to me, “Don’t worry about finding the house! The house will find YOU!”

Sure enough, a driver was waiting for me with a sign with my name, and I was taken to his beautiful house, and had an amazing time! So then, I realize that we worry too much unnecessarily, and that I could have used all that time and energy in other endeavors, and not waste such time worrying. It was a huge lesson, and since then, I live in the NOW!

Favorite Zingerman’s purchase?
The AMAZING Tellicherry pepper from those spice merchants of Canada. I love Tellicherry pepper and that’s the only pepper in my kitchen. I always buy it in India, but this one was superb! I make a lot of spaghetti cacio e pepe and so without good black pepper, it’s silly to make it!

Top Three Places to Be on Your Bucket List?
go trekking and hike the two valleys of Bhutan, go visit friends in Kashmir and go to visit all the buildings by architect Geoffrey Manning Bawa in Sri Lanka.

Favorite Music to Cook to?
My favorite group since I have been in college: the Cocteau Twins. I listen to them when I cook, when I travel, whenever I can. They relax me and send me to a very serene place.

What Three Foods Would You Want if Stranded on a Desert Island?
Spaghetti, Bacon and Anchovies

Cookbook Recommendation?
Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi. He taught me how to cook with the most essential guiding principle, which I also applied throughout my cookbook AUTENTICO, Cooking Italian the Authentic Way which is “q.b.” meaning: “quanto basta” or “As much as is enough”, “as much as needed” or even “as much as you like”!
I hate measuring and his encouragement to the reader to pick and chose as much as she/he desires when adding any seasoning to a recipe, it’s pure bliss for me! I often think that measuring promotes homogeneity and consistency, and I love to have more or less of one ingredient or another depending on the season and the recipe. I feel that we measure too much, so it’s nice to encourage people to taste and make their own version of dishes!

Favorite Food Movie?
Tampopo by Juzo Itami from 1987. It’s amazing! Two milk-truck drivers help a nice woman search for the best recipe for Ramen to help her open the best ramen noodle joint. It’s hilarious! Especially the scene of the old lady going around the specialty food shop touching everything. It’s beyond wonderful!

Word to Live By?
“GRACE” There is no more beautiful word than that for me in the Universe. Grace is a word which means good and has no intentions. It’s the “Graduate School of Karma”!

Book That has Influenced You Most?
The First and Last Freedom by Jidu Krishnamurti. It’s my Bible and I carry it all the time with me and read his meditations before going to sleep or whenever I can. He taught me also how to live in the now, and to pay attention to how when you are doing what you truly love doing, time and effort cease to exist. It means you are whole!

One Item Everyone Should Have in Their Pantry?
The best extra virgin olive oils! Nothing can change more the food that you eat than to cook with good olive oil (except for salt and sugar as well, of course!) But when you use good extra virgin olive oil and use it raw as a finishing oil, your food will taste 10 times better! I promise!

One Museum that you Could Call Home?
The Louisiana Museum half an hour north of Copenhagen on the coast. I could live there!


About Zingerman’s Great Food Group:

Committee Purpose: The Great Food Group (GFG) is here to continue to develop the ZCoB’s passion for really great food throughout our businesses and staff and into our community.

Committee Vision: The Great Food Group comes from each of the businesses to work together educating the ZCoB and our community about great food. We host chefs and send ZCoBers across the globe. Great Food is recognized in Workin’. We have a library and are editing a cookbook. You can find us in the schools and find schools in our businesses.

Through the group’s work in sharing of techniques, sourcing of better ingredients, collaborative tasting, and encouraging experimentation we have raised the bar on what we make and sell that continues to make Zingerman’s a destination for Great Food.

It is our passion for Great Food that gave us the energy to succeed.