Ciaooooooo!!! Sooooo.... as of about 2:30pm today, I got the official news that I will be returning to San Marino in July. I am returning to San Marino and I am returning to Righi la Taverna to work again for another three months. This last week has been FILLED with many mental ups and downs, changes, decisions, more changes, more decisions and finally (i think) a new beginning. Let's recap, shall we?
I flew back in to LA, feeling incomplete. Well, I was extremely happy to see my friends and family and also thrilled to be back in a city I know; after being out of my element for three months, it was nice to have some familiarity. But I left San Marino on very short notice and I left a job/internship that I did not get to finish. My mind and heart were set on being there until June. In my mind, it was a done deal. So to hear 6 days before I had to leave that my visa didn't work out was disappointing to say the least. I got home, saw my friends and family, explored the familiar city, got back in to work right away and then thought "now what?". Because that incomplete feeling was still lingering, growing stronger even. I filled the cravings (family, friends, familiar work, and yes, in n out was one too..)that had grown in me over the last few months and then didn't have a clue what my next move was. And that's where the work part comes in.
So I went back to Mozza, my home and training ground for the last almost two years. It was nice, it was familiar and it was satisfying. I started to butcher but I wasn't feeling it. Within two days, I knew something was off. I was also getting stir crazy. I was out and about in a big world for 3 months and then suddenly, I was home, where everything is familiar. Yes, I was craving familiarity so bad but I realized familiarity sometimes feels like a small room. From a giant world to a small room, I was definitely going a little crazy. I also started to realize that I can't spend my whole life traveling or staging. The last three months were an experience to BENEFIT me in the in real world where people have jobs and bills and obligations, not my ACTUAL real world. But I couldn't focus on anything other than the fact that being back felt like I had unfinished business somewhere else. And I needed a different kind of familiarity.
So I went to the closest thing I could think of to San Marino and Italy without actually going there. Chef Gino Angelini. The man that started this wholeeeee thing. If you remember, back in my first blog entry, my friend Debbie told me to talk with Chef Gino to get a job in San Marino. I met and talked with Gino once and that was all it took. I had a job. And by the way, Gino trained Chef Sartini, the chef I worked with in San Marino. Chef Sartini is his product. So I went to Gino in hopes of filling the part of me I left behind. Good choice, Ashley. Good choice.
I've been working with Gino for a few days now and his food and techniques are the closest thing to Italy without being in Italy. He speaks Italian, Spanish and English in the kitchen. He makes sure everyone eats and has coffee before, during and after work. He works on the line with us everyday, doing whatever it is that needs to get done. And he sings songs and dances on the line when things get crazy busy. He IS Italy. Born and raised in Rimini, the small town right next to San Marino. He filled the void. The food and menu filled the void. And on my third day, we sat down after the shift to eat family meal (the meal prepared for the employees), and Gino sat with me and poured me a glass of wine. Over our pasta and barolo, we talked about what I wanted, what we thought I needed in terms of my next move, and the future. He advised me to go back and finish what I started, my thoughts exactly and I didn't even have to tell him. He told me he would call Chef Sartini and make it happen. Again. Chef Gino has seen me for a total of four days and he cares enough to give me the world in the palm of my hands. Just like that. I tell him what I think and he makes it happen.
So today, I was butchering/cleaning a rack of lamb and I hear chef Gino scream from the office "ashleyyyyyyyy!!!!". I run over and Gino hands me the phone and says " it's chef sartini, he wants to say hello". I answer and Chef Sartini tells me whenever I want to come back to San Marino, it's no problem. (!!!!) So because of the whole visa thing, I tell him July, which is the earliest I can legally go back. I can hear the smile in his voice as he says no problem and laughs at my excitement. I think he likes me. Haha
So, here I am. Once again, getting myself into another adventure. Only this time, I am a little more prepared. At least I know what to expect: long hours, little to no sleep, communication frustration, etc. But I get to be surrounded by people and a country that revolve their lives around food and wine. I get to dissect the mind of a Michelin star chef in Italy and learn his techniques. I get to have my ass kicked in the name of food!! I've dedicated my life to food and learning the ways of producing great dishes. I'd say this is pretty severe dedication. And at the end of all this, I get to finish what I set out to do in the first place. Yeah it's difficult and very frustrating and not all fun. But it's valuable, unforgettable, and beautiful. It's worth it. It's so worth it.