I owe my love of cooking and desire to make people happy through eating and drinking entirely to my Sicilian family. I learned to cook and care for others by watching my great aunts and uncles tend small backyard gardens, sitting with them at the kitchen table while they prepared handmade feasts for enormous family lunches and holidays. After 14 years working my way up through nearly every aspect of the food business – starting in restaurant kitchens, catering companies, pie maker, personal chef to actors and directors and a stint at Formaggio Kitchen-South End – I started Uncommon Feasts in 2014.
With each event, I work to achieve that familiar feeling of the comfort, pleasure, and ease of a family meal, while presenting the food with care and elegance, and incorporating the client’s unique perspective. We are immeasurably fortunate to benefit from New England’s abundance of organically-grown produce, and meat and fish from responsibly-raised and sourced animals. Over the years I have developed trusted relationships and lasting friendships with farmers and purveyors whom I rely on for my ingredients. Preparing any given meal may mean multiple trips to Boston-area farmers’ markets, road trips up to Maine, or meeting a farmer halfway, in a parking lot by the side of the highway. We also rely on the rich community of local artisans – wood-crafters, potters, spice importers – for all of the touches – the seasonings, the plating, the aromas that fill the room – that shape each unique culinary event. We seek out beverage pairings from small importers who work exclusively with natural wines, and from local craft brewers. We manage each event as a complete service, inviting our clients to be as involved creating the event as they would like, but handling every detail from placing each napkin, to shucking every oyster, to refilling every glass, to drying each plate and fork after the meal.
I first got a taste for wine as an inquisitive customer at the Wine Bottega in Boston’s North End, and was captivated as much by the passion and intellectual curiosity of the people pouring the wine as the beverage itself. I began to devour any and all opportunities to taste and converse about wine; to seek out others who were similarly driven; to investigate other connected disciplines – like farming, food production, the science of brewing beer, the biology of microorganisms, importing – to the point where I realized I wanted to be one of the folks teaching, rather than just tasting. Finally, I quietly walked away from a career in the corporate legal world in order to fill my life with the history, geography, culture, science, poetry of food, wine, and beer.
The more deeply I have delved into studying wine and wine making, I have come to understand that the distinction between “natural” and “made” wines is so fundamental that it is difficult to categorize the two even as the same species of creature. I am driven – as many in the wine world are coming to be – by the belief that wine should be natural: from grapes farmed without chemicals, in harmony with all the other surrounding living growing things; from juices allowed to ferment with as little intervention as possible; produced with the intention of telling the story of the geography, the rain and the sun of the season, and the hunches and personality of the winemaker; and not something engineered to satisfy the expectations of mass markets. These simple, basic principles hold just as true for growing food and brewing beer, and through Uncommon Feasts, Michelle and I get to share just how good eating and drinking well can be.