"I know that some people use lavender, incense and cake as sedatives, but for me a ‘nose bath’ in an old book just does something."
At Restaurant Marc Forgione, correct energy is crucial. Beyond dedicating a shelf in the restaurant to meaningful items (like a feather on a red string, which he says protects from bad spirits), chef Forgione works hard to make sure his staff understands how the vibe should be. "It's important for everyone who works at your restaurant to drink your Kool-Aid," he says. "You have to make sure that the people who are representing you do so in the way—and with the energy—you want them to." Here, three lessons from Forgione on cultivating good energy in a restaurant.
1. Get staff on the same page. Make sure everybody is working toward the same goal. Hire people who want to make other people happy.
2. Empathize with guests. Remember, you are not just serving food. At the end of the day you are literally hanging out with somebody and touching their lives for a few hours. It’s your opportunity to impart some wisdom, and change somebody’s life just by simply smiling.
3. Treat everyone equally. There is no such thing as a VIP. We cook the same for every person. If we do 150 covers here, that’s 150 New York Times critics that just came in.
Chef Andrew Carmellini, of New York’s Locanda Verde, The Dutch and Lafayette, treasures the handmade pasta tools he purchased while living in Italy. To see them, click through the slideshow, Treasured: Andrew Carmellini's Pasta Tools. Carmellini uses them sparingly, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they broke. “I don’t even want to know if you can buy these online because I want to have an excuse to go back to Parma, check out some cute girls on bikes, buy some pasta tools and then come back.” Here, his top three tips for making fresh pasta, no precious tools needed.
1. Forget about tricks and just have fun. Try not to take it too seriously; it should be a fun experience, not a stressful one.
2. Use your hands, flour is going to go everywhere. If you follow the recipe and have a good dough recipe, it won’t fail.
3. Let it rest overnight, there is a little bit of science to that. We do that at Locanda Verde but you could probably let it sit out for an hour and you’d be OK. Room temperature is best because then you don’t have to deal with a big cold lump. In Italy, they just let it sit out with a towel over it.
Jonathan Waxman of New York's Barbuto wouldn't leave a burning building without his leather satchel filled with knives—a gift from his friend, chef Michael Symon. To see them, click through the slideshow, Treasured: Jonathan Waxman's Knives. Here, Waxman offers his three best tips for caring for beautiful, high-quality knives.
1. Buy the most expensive knife you can. They are always better. And go to a proper knife store like Korin and buy the tools to take care of it—like my leather bag. Leather won't dull your knives. Wood is better than plastic but leather is best.
2. Protect the tips. My wife uses my knives all the time and I come home and they have nicks and divots in them and I ask what happened?! Japanese knives are brittle so don't sharpen them often.
3. Learn how to sharpen on a cheap knife. Then do it right on an expensive one. All my guys grind their knives on stones all day long and that's just bad for the knife.