Recently I was invited to attend a fun event at Todd Reed’s on Abbot Kinney with Crateful Catering. I have mentioned Crateful before in this post. From the uniform to the serving trays to, of course, the food, everything was beautiful. The team was professional and friendly and they worked together efficiently. I was very curious to see the behind the scenes and it was a true pleasure to watch the Crateful Catering team, led by the Michelin Star Chef Cristina Bowerman, do their magic.
Cristina, who is native to Italy, was kind enough to meet me the next day and answer a few questions I had about the real chef life.
– Yesterday at the event you said “Through food I express my love to the world,” could you please tell me more about that?
– I really think that food is a creativity expression and I also think that through their work, their lifestyle people relate to the world in a certain way. Feeding people is certainly a form of love toward anybody and in this particular situation, not being pointed at one person or another, I can say that this is the way I relate to the rest of the world. Feeding people is a form of love, it’s an expression of love.
– These days food shows are very popular on TV, it’s always very dramatic. What would you say is the biggest difference between how the chefs are being seen or portrayed versus what it is really like to be a chef?
– Like anything the TV portrays, it has nothing to do with real life. The way the chefs are generally portrayed is not a positive way. They are usually portrayed as people who yell, curse and they tell everybody off and fortunately, it is not what happens in real kitchens.
This could be more of a profile of real real old, I’m talking about past generations. French chefs, in which there was a big guy, the chef and there was an apprenticeship, the bottom of the food chain and there are cases which were documented that they literally were exploited like slaves. But it doesn’t happen in real life anymore, because the cook’s labor is protected and also the fact that we understood the management style that would get the best results is actually a different one than yelling. The cooking shows on TV are very male oriented, the testosterone brings the worst in you, and it is the attitude that doesn’t find the ground in real life at all.
– What is your process behind creating a recipe? What inspires you?
– Anything can spark the creative process, it can be the photo, it can be the blue sea, it can be the mimosa flower. The way you proceed is generally similar in every situation. I focus on one ingredient and then I start to think what it can be matched with, I try to break the rules and do something people haven’t done before cause otherwise it would be just any other dish. Then I come up only with the ingredients that I like, I put on the plate 3 or 4 ingredients and I think that could be a flavor profile of that dish. Then I eat it and if I like it, then I keep working on it, otherwise, I throw it away and start all over again. I generally draw the ingredients on the plate and how they need to be plated and that’s it.
– How do you balance the flavor and presentation of the dish?
– The presentation is very important for me. I worked in graphic design for 10 years. The beauty needs to be present, I am one of those people where if plate doesn’t look that great, I’m not going to be into it. The plate needs to be beautiful. The aesthetic part is not as important as the flavor, of course, because if it lays beautiful and doesn’t taste like anything or tastes bad, it’s not gonna be that important in the end. But a perfect dish for me is the balance between the flavor and aesthetic part. If the dish doesn’t taste like anything, for me it’s a waste of calories.
– Tell me your story about joining Crateful.
– Crateful was founded by myself, Emanuele, Andrea, Angie and Olga. I was with Crateful since the beginning, it helped to have an idea of what exactly needed to be done, what we wanted to do. It is a meal delivery company focusing on different diets that have been put together with the help of the chef and nutritionist at the same time. We tried to do very healthy food but it’s fast as well. A lot of times healthy food is associated with something that doesn’t taste that good. If instead you can match the two things, flavor and health, that it would be a good thing and that’s what Crateful tries to do.
– You are based in Italy, Crateful team is here in LA, what is it like to work with the team across the world?
– First of all, it is important to have someone here that is very very skilled and professional, there is a person that I don’t need to explain anything, he knows exactly what I mean when I say things, this person is our chef here in LA. In general, at the head of the kitchen in Crateful there is and there always will be someone who is very skilled and not just labor, that is one of the ways you can do stuff.
Being a meal delivery program we already know the recipes that have been created, that have been tried many times so it’s like having another restaurant, at that point the distance doesn’t matter. I have two restaurants in Rome, I cannot be at both restaurants at the same time, so it really doesn’t matter if it is one mile or a hundred miles, you just have to trust the people you work with and create a menu, a system that works even when you’re not there and there is quality control of course, once in a while when I come here, check on everything. Today I tasted a bunch of stuff.
– What would you recommend on Crateful menu, chef’s special?
– What I would recommend to people, especially in LA, in fact that’s what I’ve been saying lately, is businesses need to inform clients on what a balanced diet really is. Sometimes I feel that clients request having no gluten, no carbs, etc. which creates kind of an unbalanced diet so one of the things that I would like to see is more appreciation of everything that Earth gives us and not only certain things, less fixation.
– Has it ever happened when you created something and it didn’t turn out as expected?
– Many times, it would be unreal and unnatural if it didn’t happen, you learn through mistakes.
– Food photos are one of the most popular types of photos on social media, do you Instagram your food?
– Yeah, sometime I do, not all the time. When I am here in the US I want people I work with in Italy to see the food here.
– And my last question: 3 unexpected ways to upgrade a peanut butter sandwich by Christina Bowerman?
– I did an ice cream with peanut butter and jelly. At my restaurant in Italy I have squab and berries, gastrique and PB powder that is served with meat and all kind of seeds, mostly pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, mixed altogether, it’s really good. What I haven’t done in the past and what would I do is I would take the bread, roll it with the pin so it’s thin, I would make a cone and put it in the oven so it’s crunchy, I would take PB and work it with a little bit of milk or something to smooth it up a little, I would put it in an icing cone to make a foam and then on the bottom I would put the jelly, then I would put the foam and on top I would put some fresh fruit and eat it like an ice cream.
Head to Crateful Catering to get more information, also check out Crateful meal delivery and try some of the Cristina’s creations! Use code code “UlianaCrateful” to get the best proposal on catering and 25% off meal delivery.