In this moment in our history it is good for all of us  to take a moment and re-calibrate our feelings and expectations. We have many problems and a multitude of difficulties, but we live in the most amazing land on the planet, with abundant resources, an incredible human capital and a constitution that marvels anything in our history. Our great nation is made out of ideas, industries, personal risks and capital, large or small.

I went to school in Italy, we got a fantastic education until the middle of the 70’s and than the political climate  changed for the worst, socialism, communism, social unrest.

We, as a country, never recuperated. Angry social experiments gone very bad, the pride of our land was reduced in daily arguments about who’s fault it was. And in the end, it was all of us, Instead of looking for positive solutions to our many legitimate issues, we got blinded by political parties.          

If we want to make a difference, we should get involved, among ourselves, ,in our neighborhoods, in our families, in our schools. We will find that we have more in common than not.

Love, learn and enjoy is my true recipe for a happy life.

Convivium to be togheter

L'idea e' semplice , cercare con accurata conoscenza il prodotto e la provenienza,dopo di che con oculata professionalita' trasmomare la materia prima in un piatto appariscente e gustosissimo al palato.Fatto questo tutta l'attenzione va' riversata su i conviviali.

Sembra facile ma il piu' delle volte non lo e'.

Oggi si vive in un mondo competitivo all'eccesso,ed esasperato dalla informazione mediatica assillante, si restingono i tempi e conseguentemente i rapporti, dando cosi' aperture all'incomprensione e alle arroganze culturali.

 Il punto di incontro e' sempre piu' importante, puo’ facilitare la comunicazione e puo’ dare i tempi necessari per evolversi in conversazioni e conoscenza a livello piu' umano. Il punto chiave e' nel cercare locali con poche distrazioni: televisioni ovunque ,musiche assordanti, menu che hanno  di fresco e stagionale molto poco,dove tutto e' fatto per incoraggiare il consumo sproporzionato di alcolici senza nessuna ragione specifica, tranne il profitto dell'operatore.

La  nostra e' una professione meravigliosa, ci da la possibilita' giornaliera di vivere momenti bellissimi ed intimi con i nostri simili, in rapporti non ottenibili in altri mestieri. Convivium essere insieme, una lezione di umanita' unica, ascoltare, condividere, sentirsi parte di questo progetto che noi chiamiamo democrazia, rappresentata tutti i giorni in tutti i momenti, con diverse espressioni e diverse necessita'.E' difficile immaginarsi una storia diversa in America, un paese ricco di storia, di gente che qui trova una dimensione diversa e una liberta' che e' difficile immaginare altrove. La liberta' di vivere una vita secondo le proprie esegenze e modi di credere, liberta' di non fare di piu' di quello che senti, di credere o non credere, la liberta' fondamentale che e' scritta nella costituzione. Tutti gli esseri umani sono stati creati  con la stessa eguaglianza senza nessuna eccezione. Un'idea che sfugge tutt’ora in molti paesi del mondo, ecco perche' trovo che in questo momento della nostra storia e' importante ricordare che il nostro processo democratico anche se a volte non troppo civico, e’ pur sempre nel contesto constituzionale del convivium. Questo e' il nostro paese, la nostra famiglia, i nostri problemi non democratici o republicani, indipendenti e disinteressati, e' il nostro Paese la nostra gente. Domani tutti continueremo a vivere la nostra vita con la stessa allegria, lo stesso ottimismo di sempre, perche' vivere in America e' un convivium unico al mondo, un progetto umano riuscito, un esempio da copiare e celebrare con tutte le sue imperfezioni, errar umanum est! Sbagliare e' umano.

OC Register Praises Chef Massimo & His Delicious Broths!

      A great thank you to Cathy Thomas at the OC Register for the wonderful article. To enhance your culinary adventures at home, the Mediterranean and Aromatic broths featured in this article are now for sale at Onotria. Come pick up these delicious broths in two sizes; 32 oz. ($12) and 64 oz ($24).

To read the article in its entirety, click the link!

Orange County Farmers Market

Healthy, fun morning out at the Orange County Farmers Market. As is documented, I am a big supporter of farmers markets...for many reasons! They are fun for families, you can exercise all of your senses, and they are a great way to support your local economies. I was invited to celebrate the Orange County Farmers Markets 20th Anniversary, and participate in a chef cook-off.

Here is an example of fresh Branzino and red chili peppers from the farmers market, accompanied by spices from Onotria Boutique.

Simple preparations.

Behind the scenes..backstage pass!

Yes, I have that effect on people.

 My favorite crowd; young people that are enthusiastic about cooking fresh, amazing food.

Of course...a selfie! I couldn't resist.

Don't forget to pick up a copy of my new cookbook, "Ingredients For Life," when you come to dine at Onotria!

Recipes For Life: Part 1

We tap into so much nonsense nowadays, and it is very difficult to distinguish between facts and fantasy. As a chef I always try to make foods that are interesting, exciting and somehow eloquent to the visual and the palate, but sometimes that requires items that are not necessarily all that good for you. When we make dishes for everyday’s eating, health and quality are not just words; it's the selection of ingredients that are well suited for a better metabolism and more exciting for the palate because it is important for food to stay attractive and desirable. It's the reason why we generally come to the table, and the reason why we eat everyday is to bring some intelligent and amazing nutrition to our bodies.

        We eat, we drink: because the body needs the right nutrients and also the right hydration, and we can achieve those goals with very simple steps. Nature provides a lot more than we give it credit to. Unfortunately we have become a world where the supermarkets and grocery stores are giant compounds where you can buy industrial sized processed packages. They have taken away the beautiful relationship that we have had in the past with our food and our food suppliers.

     It truly becomes a fight of the boxes. What is in the boxes? What kind of ingredients? How many different preservatives and harmful ingredients are in there? What is the nutritional value? Sometimes it is very difficult to keep up with what’s going on in the marketplace. There many camouflaging flavors, tastes and textures that we like and enjoy, tastes we have been accustomed to all our lives, however they do not have the same nutritional quality that they used to, nor the same ingredients. In this context, our recipes for life are about making choices that are in line with exciting dining experience as well as choosing foods that are very appealing, nutritious, and delicious to the the palate.

      In reality the conversation turned to another level altogether. As a chef, I bring the experience and the expertise to the table because it is very important to be able to educate in a way that is fun, practical, easy to achieve, and sustainable. People's success will determine the reasons why they keep wanting to learn. Nobody likes to feel incompetent, nobody enjoys the feeling of not being able to cook something good. Yet, food is simple. You can make something very delicious out of very simple ingredients. Sometimes all you need is a little guidance. Sometimes it is just a few tips on executing, and where to buy. With that in mind I created Recipes for Life, a cooking program that requires simple steps for people to achieve their desired results.

Passionate about Life and the Pursuit of Happiness

The peaceful silence of the morning sitting at Onotria staring out the windows, at the beautiful gardens vineyards. Thinking about things that are somewhat simple somewhat important, just reflecting on the daily affair and activities. I just made a beautiful salad, with fresh fennel, cucumbers, mixed seafood, clams, calamari, seppia, tossed in a fresh tangy lemon with a beautiful seasoning, drizzle of of olive oil and I cannot help but romanticize because the senses are so awakened, so vibrant. Life is a conquest, small, big, but a conquest. Every day, when we rise to the occasion we feel empowered, we feel free. Chefs are somewhat conquistadors. They don't pillage the neighborhood they just wander around to discover new places, new flavors, new spices. All of those are usually residing within the mind. So my advice to all wannabe cooks and chefs and home cookers, is jump on the boat, be a pirate, conquer,  find new frontiers.
 Don't do the obvious, don't do too repetitious, the palate is like life, it needs to be stimulated, be excited. for years and years you have been told what's good for you, and you found out there is not too much value in spinach, and now you know why you hate them because they were not that good after all. There are so many other exciting vegetables. Get off your butt, get away from your beige neighborhood, vanilla stores.Walk on the wild side, go to Little Saigon, go to Korea Town, the Chinese stores. When you go to the vegetable market don't just buy the same old granola mixed with worthless whitebreads. Go to the little asian stand where they grow all of those amazing green leafy vegetables. Buy yourself some fresh tumeric roots, shave it like you do with your ginger and garlic, with EVOO and spray it very lightly with a little water and salt. You'll be in heaven with the flavors, close your eyes, the flavors, textures, excitement.
 Life is a carnival, don't just sit in the living room looking at the same beige wall listening to the same idiot on TV talking about things that don't mean anything aside from trying to sell you another commercial. "Wait in thirty seconds. wait", don't, get up, buy yourself some fresh persimmon, taste it. They're just as exciting as apples and pears. Buy yourself some guava, some unique flavors you've never had before. Gorgueous beautiful little colorful ball, with yellow seeds inside. That's passionfruit my friend, passion, you've got to crack the shell to get into the passion. When you taste it to your palate it wakes up your passion. Its a tangy,sweet,  sour, beautiful lemon-y, melon-y flavors, deep and long absolutely stunning. It vibrates into your brain cells. That's eating, that's discovering, that's life. When you put that beautiful first spoonful of whipping cream that you never had before, its like mothers milk. Or taste the first slice of watermelon on a summer's day, that's just happiness. so you can sit on your couch in your lounge chair and wonder, or you can get off the couch and start living. So you all know what to do, just stop being afraid of it, just do it. Happy New Years from the bottom of my heart, and if you are as passionate about life as I am, you can come to the wild side, because here at Onotria we do things the right way. Slow, fun, silly, incredibily on target. Life is worth living. Like my buddy Roberto used to say, la vita e` bella.


Warm Holiday Wishes

      I want to wish the warmest to you and your family from Onotria, as well as from me, Massimo Navarretta, and my family. I want to bring back some of the Christmas traditions of the Southern Wine Region of Italy. Onotria Wine Country Cuisine occasionally gets its own narrations of cultural culinary experiences. We also bring back some of those celebrations because culinarily speaking we are a country close to the water. We didn't do a lot of spending and gift giving but we did do a lot of sitting and eating and enjoying conversation with our family and friends. One of the most amazing parts of the Christmas celebration was the feast of the food. Because of our vicinity to the sea, we would go and pick up Calamari, Seppia, Clams, Octopus, and all of that translated into the dinner for Christmas Eve. As well as all of the seasonal greens: the Rapini, the Escarole, and the Fennels, chestnuts, Porcini mushrooms, Ovuli. Which make our Mediterranean diet such a wonderful healthy diet.
     One of the best memories as a kid would be the excitement in finding the mushrooms and chestnuts. Also sitting by the fire and watching the chestnuts pop, because if you don't cut them, they will explode, and we would have particular enjoyment at watching the old ladies jumping when the chestnuts would pop out of the ashes, of course, these days we would get lawsuits, but it was still fun.
For our seventh year anniversary we would like to enjoy a piece of our tradition with you at Onotria. Through the month of December, we're going to create a menu that reflects those traditions with a twist and an innovative touch. We're going to do the octopus poached with black olives, fresh fennels and Pacchino tomatoes, garlic, EVOO, and oregano. Linguini with Calimari and fresh Rapini. And of course the omnipresent fresh Merluzzo or Cod in a cassoulet, over sweet potatoes in a Moscato wine sauce and green olives, or classic deep fried with beer batter in a lemon dry Vermut sauce. Roast chestnuts whipped with fresh Marscapone in a chocolate cup Ganache. Buon Natale a tutti and the best to your family. Salute!

Happy Birthday Onotria and Happy Thanksgiving!

Good morning Orange Country and happy birthday Onotria. Happy Birthday on your seventh year of amazing time and challenged time. More importantly happy birthday to an idea that has come. I had a hold in my mind for many years, a passion, a desire to deliver to the market a concept so simple, so basic, creating wonderful food from the earth to the table using natural herbs and spices, fruit, selecting the finest meat the greatest wild games,but more importantly, most importantly an environment where people can have a conversation. A dining experience like home. Something they're used to, where time is not important, nobody is pushing anyone out, no one is running around to try to turn you table and rush your experience. A place where food and wine and human relationships are at the center of it all. This is not just a money machine. There are no tricks, there is no mickey mouse, no distractive, undesired noise or music except for the good loud chatting of individuals having a great time and great converstations. Even more exciting than that, its all paired well with a great glass of wine, with a simple Dolcetto or a fantastic bottle of Sassicaia. The goal is always the same. If it belongs at your tables, enjoy it. Fulfill your enogastronomic desire.

At Onotria we keep alive the Roman concept of "Convivium" to enjoy an experience together. The Onotria menu was designed with that concept in mind, to be shared with the rest of the table, not because the portions are extra large, but rather exciting flavors and textures. The word we heard around the tables in our restaurant "You gotta taste this!" Even though we understand our modern life has different needs, we feel the need to stay connected at all times with our toys, please make the time to share those beautiful moments. When you exchange an eye glance, a word of encouragement, or a story a silly tale, a forkful of something that tastes so yummy that you want the other person to experience it. That is the food I love to make. It will be and still is the most beautiful and valuable time we have (human interaction.)

I don't see the world as a competition. I live in my own island, its called Onotria. The chef mind is an incredible place, where many ideas are sprung from just looking at something, when you're driving by Bristol and you realize that you have vineyards, a garden, and everything we grow, we use in our food. It seems a foreign concept to so many and at the end its just home to me and its become home to our customers. The biggest homage that I can attest to is the support we have. I know its easy if you are in New York, LA or Chicago where such a vast population goes out to dine and they love any kind of unique and new idea. but I love Orange County, I love my customers, because they get it. They understand what we do and they support us over these seven years, they really do understand. They understand our committment to quality and lifestyle, to truth and real product, real food: the farming, the vineyards the whole thing. We are going to serve you on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday all through the month of November, a fantastic old fashioned recipe. Pork shank slowly braised in a Persimmon Cherry Peppers Sherry Wine Sauce over Risotto of Spinach and Ricotta Salata. In this Thanksgiving season let me express my deep thanks from me, Veronica and the kids for giving us the opportunity to have such a great life. Also, thank you to all of my staff for supporting us in making this adventure so special. Please join me all through the month of November to share a Prosecco toast to testimony the fact that even through challenged time, we still have fun. Salute!