On June 8, Paul Torre, The Italian Chef who was the inspiration for this website and, more importantly, my father, passed away after a two year struggle with multiple diseases. I knew I wanted to write about this here because he was such a big part of this site, but it took me some time to be able to write what I wanted to say.
I started this website back in 1999, with the purpose of keeping my father’s recipes alive after he retired from the restaurant business. Born to Italian immigrants in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, his family moved back to Italy to escape the great depression shortly after his birth. When he was 18 he came back to America, settling in the New York metropolitan area, and began a 40+ year career as an accomplished chef. The last 19 years of that career were spent as chef/owner of his own Italian restaurant, La Villetta in Larchmont, NY.
When I started this website I was not much of a cook. Although, I had worked in the restaurant since I was a teenager, it was always in the front of the house as a waiter. The early process of trying to get recipes from a chef who did everything by feel was not easy. When I would ask him for amounts of ingredients I would get answers like “You know” and “Better too little than too much.” Eventually, we settled into a routine of cooking together with me taking the handfuls and pinches of ingredients from him, and measuring them. Those were great times that I will always cherish. As I became more comfortable with cooking over the years, and getting together to cook became more difficult, I would discuss a dish with him then go off on my own to work out measurements. When I was happy with my results I would then show him the recipe for approval and final tweaking. Cooking together and discussing food forged a bond between us that greatly added to an already special father-son relationship.
Sadly, he is gone now, so I no longer will have his direct input or advice on this website or life in general for that matter. He was not only a great chef, but a great father and I will miss him dearly. However, his spirit will always be by my side in the kitchen, and I will always apply the sensibility about and principles of Italian cooking that he instilled in me. Being a chef was not just a job for my father, he truly had a passion for cooking and hospitality. That passion is a gift that he gave to me, and I will continue the journey I started here with my dad.
I love you and miss you Dad.Read More