Voice4Chefs

Adventures with La Spiga Part I

May 01, 2021 ChefMichael Season 1 Episode 3
Voice4Chefs
Adventures with La Spiga Part I
Show Notes Transcript

In episode 3 we learn about Pietro Borghesi, General manager and Co-Owner of La Spiga in Seattle, WA.  He shares a special story about being born in The Congo and raised in Italy.  How he met and fell in love with Executive Chef Sabrina in Salzburg, Austria. And how they began a life together which led them on a path to create their dream restaurant named “La Spiga”. This is a three-part series that immerses you into their whole story about the romance, food, and a passion of bringing authentic Italian cuisine from Italy to Seattle, WA.  Special thanks to Biggerideas.com for the creative design and to Steve Olson for an inspirational cover song.

Visit La Spiga here: https://www.laspiga.com/
Visit Voice4Chefs here: https://www.voice4chefs.com/

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MichaelDugan)

Michael Dugan:

Welcome to part one of adventures with the speaker today, we will meet Pietro Bourghesi, passionate, Italian and general manager, and the co-owner of the La Spiga. He partnered with his wife Sabrina Tinsley executive chef and co-owner. Together they have brought the flavors and culture of Italy to Seattle, Washington. Today on part one, you will learn about Pietro, how he came to meet Sabrina and what led them to choosing the path to own this cultural icon in Seattle, Washington. Ciao Pietro,

Pietro Borghesi:

Ciao Michael

Michael Dugan:

Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me, Pietro, tell us what it was like growing up in the Congo.

Pietro Borghesi:

Well, I mean it was very interesting. Those were times where Mobuto, started the fight against the Belgium, and my father was a doctor there so he kind of lived it through. But my mom would just go back and forth because it was at times very dangerous. So I ended up staying there only for two years. I hardly remember besides all the, stuff that my, my father brought home after you know after my mum gave him the ultimatum, you got to come back because with five children we can't do this anymore. And, and so I am very very vague memories of that, a lot of pictures, but I was the only sibling in my family that was born out there, maybe it did leave, you know, kind of an interesting aspect to my personality because I've always considered myself a traveler. Because it brought internationality to my family, let's put it that way. But then, you know, I did the regular life of an Italian boy in the 70s and 80s. And it really shaped me, I was, I think very lucky, besides the fact that my father died when I was nine years old, he got sick out there so I'm sorry. Well, it's part of life. Right. And, but we were lucky because it was a economic boom, you know, right after the war, you know, but I grew up, basically, I lived. Besides that I lived a regular life. You know the old Italian person, it was. I grew up in, in part of Italy this called Romania. Part of the Emilia Romagna region. The capital is Bolonia, but the Romagna region is the eastern side of the region on the Adriatic very calm and pretty rich place, so I was able to, you know, attend school. I went through high school, I did a couple of years of economics at the University of Parma, and then I had to stop because my mom couldn't support me. So I picked up a job at the beginning the intention was to work and study but the job was to demanding. So, I was working like 60 hours a week, it was really difficult, but it gave me the start, on the food business, because I was working for a company that was the food distribution company. Pretty much like Cash & Carry here, so they, they would, they had, you know, we'll see like in market of clients that were from the grocery stores to restaurants to hotels. My area is there's a lot of Tourism, so there was a wealth of of customers or clients to be to be tended to. So, I started off as a sales rep first, and I was in charge of about 50-60 grocery stores that went by almost entirely from us. So, I would supply, it was almost like a franchise, you know section. And I had the passion for the classics of the region. So, I would spend time sometimes with my bosses to go and buy wheels of Parmigiano. Then decide the prices for like 100- 200 at a time, and I learned how to how to choose them to check for quality.

Michael Dugan:

So tell us, Tell us how do you check for quality for Parmigiano.

Pietro Borghesi:

Now is everything is automized right. So again, they have these, these robots that go there these isles of Parm.

Michael Dugan:

But I want to live the fantasy our, our listeners want to live the fantasy of, You know, visiting and checking the parmesan and learning about the foods.

Unknown:

Yeah, what did I miss out to check it, is that there are special hammers that you that you kind of look we are looking for sounds, you know, because, Parmigiano that doesn't work is because it creates some bubbles of air inside. That's what we call in Italian Falato when it, when a Parmigiano is not whole inside. Then it's it loses in value, basically. Yeah, but the quality of the Parmigiano was that there's a consortium right, so the quality, once it's branded as Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano the quality check has been done already. So you want to make sure when you buy you don't get some that develope these bubbles inside basically. Okay, but the funny story there is that at one time because he started working there 30 years ago, basically, so that the robotic section of the House of Parmigiano is called Caseificio was not existing yet and are now they have these machines that go grab the optimizer they grab that wheel of Parmigiano off of the shelf, then they turn it around because it needs to be turned around so that It doesn't develop this is bubbles and back then, they were this really stocky man that would just pick it up, this is, it's a 30 kilos, you know, cheese. Okay, it's very oily outside so it's slippery. And you should see these guys we had arms that looked like legs and they would flip the cheese. Ha Ha Ha ... It was pretty interesting.

Michael Dugan:

That's the fantasy I'm thinking about.

Pietro Borghesi:

Yeah, yeah it's it's beautiful but also seeing the production, even there like every Caseificio every House of Parmigiano has one person and only one that decides when you, when you stop the caveat, basically, you have this, the milk comes in, they put him in in this vats. And then, little by little they started warming it up, you know, they put, they put the cargo inside, and then it start creating these, these curds, we call them curds a little bit, but it's the temperature that decide that decides when you stop the Calyatta, and you pull out there are usually two wheels of Parmigiano every vat. There is only, on person that can stop. There's only one person that decides when you can do when you can stop there, and it's the Casaro, and it does it with no instrument just for this, the palm of his hand is good. Yeah, it's interesting. So Casaro works, 365 days a year, because he's the only one that will do that pretty incredible. And then I would do the same for the proscuitto. In fact, we are I don't know if you knew that, but we've been voted last year as the Consulate of prosciutto di Parma, so that they consortium of the prosciutto di Parma gave us that title for last year. In Seattle, I don't know how many use that very few restaurant use the proscuitto with the bone in. Oh, okay. So we buy the bone in proscuitto. I debone it actually, the reason why we a lot of my colleagues ask why would you go through all that and you can already buy bone in proscuitto, right, but the reason is that the proscuitto, until it has the bone in it keeps aging and keeps curing.

Michael Dugan:

When we talk about moving forward in your life. Was there a point where you came across a decision and you knew that you wanted to choose the path or the fork in the road to own a restaurant.

Pietro Borghesi:

I have to blame my wife. That was the fork. Yeah,

Michael Dugan:

She would be smiling right now,

Pietro Borghesi:

Well she knows. Yeah, she, you know, we met in Salzburg, my wife and I, Salzburg, Austria, she's American. And she was teaching in international school and stuff, and you know it was basically love at first sight, and we, we went back and forth, you know, like a long distance dating for about a year and then she moved down to Italy, but I think what really sparked everything was because she is an natural chef, you know she's a Creole from out of the family's from Louisiana, they all natural, of course, it's amazing. Okay. The moment that we started hanging out together in Italy. At the beginning she couldn't work legally. So, if I had to go somewhere, I was traveling all over Italy for, for work. And so tell us, why don't you come with me. I have to go to Naples tomorrow. Come with me and then we go, we go eat somewhere there and so you experience that food. And she just fell in love with, the quality of ingredients in Italy with the culture of cooking and oh yeah, and from that moment, she made me fat because then she would experiment there all the dishes and trying all these ingredients and at the end, she started after that she started like taking some, some classes and cook with my mom, too, and before we knew we started opening some shops already in Italy. So we had some frozen yogurt shop, because it was working for a period of time for a company in Italy that was a company that produces our ingredients for pastry shops for bakeries for ice cream shops. Oh wow. And even when I was in charge of a franchise. Basically we would give our potential investors like a turn of the key business. With all the products and the frozen yogurt Enzo started in Italy it was very successful. We had a couple of places with where we were making piadina, is some piadina, shops, piadina is our flatbread, that we typically from my region. And piadina shops all across my reason are incredibly successful. So, we made the flatbread itself and then make it into sandwiches, and, even that was very successful, and Sabrina started blooming for cooking.

Michael Dugan:

I can imagine just this conversation is making me so hungry.

Pietro Borghesi:

At one point we had this shopping Matera was in the market with the market region, and we have the small shop right in the middle of the university buildings where all of the classroom full of students there were 16,000 students. All around us we were super busy and she started coming up with the with this time which is using fresh ingredients, we would always cook at home and bring it to the shop and fill these, these incredible sandwiches. It was very successful,

Michael Dugan:

We're gonna explore more with La Spiga. In part two, but I want to make sure that our listeners know right now, how do people find you if they're a tourist or if they're a local, how would they get to your restaurant.

Pietro Borghesi:

We are on Fourth Avenue and Pike. So, pretty famous is especially after last summer, place and we are in a, in a historical building called Piston & Rin building on S

Michael Dugan:

Your website.

Pietro Borghesi:

My website is www.laspiga.com.

Michael Dugan:

Pietro, I just want to thank you on behalf of Voice4Chefs, for being our guest today, it's a pleasure, and do you have any parting words for us in Italian.

Pietro Borghesi:

He speaks Italian and says.

Michael Dugan:

Wow. And what does that mean?

Pietro Borghesi:

That I wanted to think besides you, all the customers that show their support in the past 22 years of our life.

Michael Dugan:

Part two, we'll learn how Pietro wooed his wife Sabrina and moved from Italy, all the way to Seattle, and together with his wife Sabrina co-owner and executive chef, they started La Spiga in Capitol Hill, a famous Italian restaurant, and cultural icon.