The roots of Dello Stritto’s culinary ardour were planted during his childhood in a small farming village north of Naples, Italy. The village, Caiazzo, has historically been famed for the quality of its olives and more, and nearly everyone is engaged in food production.
“The smell, the taste and the honest culture were part of my upbringing,” he says. “Simplicity and respect for the ingredients are what I need to give guests the essence of my land.”
Pursuit of quality product is a big priority for Dello Stritto, who personally combs farmers markets and fish markets throughout LA for the best ingredients from local purveyors. “As for the rest,” he says, reeling off Italian olive oil, cheeses, cured meats and more, “I work my connections. The same product from here or overseas can be the same price but of totally different quality. For the best, you need the right connections.”
Indeed. Dello Stritto occasionally finishes days at Culina by heading straight to the airport to check incoming product. “I trust people,” he says with a laugh, “but sometimes I have to go personally.” He tells a tale of procuring the main ingredient for a five-course white truffle dinner offered by Culina. “I was in constant contact with the supplier – back and forth, back and forth,” he recalls. When they finally met at the airport, Dello Stritto was the first chef in line. “He opened the box and I saw the most beautiful truffle.” It weighed 19 ounces. “I bought it.” And dinner, with paired wines, was served.
Dello Stritto’s dream, he concludes, is for a restaurant where people don’t even need to see the menu. “Instead they just feel a connection.”
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