Cristina Bowerman, 53, a famous starred chef and president of the country's Ambassadors of Taste Association, is a volcano: of interests, impulses, experiences. With the passion of cooking in mind, the academic title in his pocket and several professional passages, today he is the "signature" of the Glass Hostaria, restaurant in Trastevere, Rome. From this position, he tells Healthyroyale. And tell readers how to keep going love cooking even when it becomes one daily routine.
What does cooking taste like for you?
A taste of home. I come from the South, where the main topic of conversation is food. In my family, then: in the morning we talk about what we prepare in the evening, in the evening about what we will eat the next day. In short, I grew up in the kitchen: even as a girl, I was always the one who cooked for friends. The transformation into a profession arrived in the USA: there, in advance of the country, the culinary art was already a "science". To study seriously, as I did. And I keep doing.
A qualitative leap. Now, chefs have a different face
Before the cook was only a manual worker, now he has a series of skills that go beyond culinary skills or physical strength: he is no longer the energetic one who lifts sacks of flour or 20 kilos pots! If I look at myself, I say to myself: “I will always find someone who will sauté better than me, but on my side I have organizational and entrepreneurial skills, I speak three languages, I have been using social media for thirty years”. More broadly, being a chef is a profession in all respects, which requires education, culture, updating, the ability to listen and to interact with the whole community around us. As Ambassadors of Taste, for example, we are committed at the forefront of promoting and conveying the food and wine heritage of the country throughout the world.
What is the main ingredient to "break through"?
Passion, and more passion. Success, for me, doesn't equate with popularity but with personal fulfillment. This is the basis for being happy. The thrust that comes from the heart has always been the guiding thread of my professional life. In this vein, I have changed careers three times. And it doesn't necessarily stop me here, in the kitchen.
Is your work the manifesto of your personality, then?
In the last fifteen years, cooking has been the best way to express myself: I am a curious person, with many interests, a tireless traveler. I feel like a child of the world, which knows no boundaries. Even my culinary proposals are "contaminated" like me, a mixture of territories, traditions, different memories. I look like a plow, I carry everything I learn with me: in every place I go, I try to discover new ingredients, new preparation and cooking techniques. I do at least one course a year, to learn how to make green curry or pastrami, for example. And I pour the ethnic ideas in the typical dishes of our culture.
Intensity, sensitivity, dynamism. There is to be enchanted. But for many women, putting together lunches and dinners is often a chore, which they would gladly do without ...
How do I understand them! There is a beautiful one distinction between obligation and passion. The pleasure of cooking it feeds on quality time and relaxed atmospheres: background music, a good glass of wine next to the stove, concentration that inspires the preparation. But when it happens in the routine? Never. Even today women have to "put at the table" husbands and children every sacred day, and in the meantime carry on work, home, family. But cooking with these pressures is just a stress.
If it weren't just commitment and obligation, could things in the kitchen be better?
Making food is an activity that has deep emotional roots. Discovering them helps to go beyond it effort of the daily routine. Because serving "our dishes" represents the most intense moment of interpersonal relationship. Shorten the distances between one and the other, it's the closest thing to a kiss. After all, the most important bonds, between man and woman, between parents and children, between friends are not created when one is at the table but when one cooks for another. It's like telling him: “I have done something unique and specific for you”.
In addition to duty, there is also pleasure, it seems to understand ...
For ourselves, first of all. Unlike other jobs, being in the kitchen gives gratifications immediate that pay back in a concrete way from the efforts made: you can immediately see the final result, and this fills us with pride for having created something out of nothing. The other satisfaction is given to us by our guests, which we did happy with that first or that roast. Food is a vehicle of love, generosity, sharing, sensory satisfaction.
But don't you end up overeating?
Ah food, friend and foe of our lives. Everyone talks about it, and it doesn't surprise me. It is the most common and easy tool of conversation, at any latitude. Meanwhile, we demonize it, taken by fear of getting fat. Thus, we always find ourselves in the balance between temptation and anxiety: do I do it or do I not do it? And what if I get stuffed? It is a paradox: we care about eating less, but not better. In reality, cooking leads you not to overdo it: already during the preparation we satisfied the olfactory and visual sense, and this regulates the appetite. I who spend my days in the kitchen I only eat when I'm hungry, once a day!
A curiosity: do you prepare for your family? Yes, for my son Luca, 13 years old, but only on the day of rest, on Monday. And I do it willingly because it is a moment of comparison between generations: I always take into account the advice of a boy in my experiments. During the lockdown, however, we went wild. We also had a picnic in the living room, from chicken salad to sandwiches.
Dynamic, eclectic, counter-current in everything. Even in the hair, you are true to yourself ...
I made them in all colors, depending on the inspiration of the moment. Now I am pink, a symbolic color for me: it reminds me that the worst - a serious illness - is behind me. And that hasn't affected my life. Of course, at 53, this tint can be absurd for some. But I don't give up. One has to feel comfortable with oneself, and I am. All time.
EVEN COOKS ARE STRESSED
Being a chef is tired, and a lot. "For the many hours of work, the fast pace, the tight and warm spaces in which you move", explains Cristina Bowerman. «In addition, between us now there is a competition between who is best, awarded and polled by the media. In a nutshell, we are subjected to a continuous examination of ourselves and our self-esteem. All factors that weigh on the psychophysical well-being of individuals.
To combat stress, the association of the country Ambasciatori del Gusto, of which I am president, has launched an unprecedented project with the Order of Psychologists of Lazio to help operators in the catering sector: it will lead to the drafting of a vademecum of advice for prevent the difficulties of the category, as well as a free psychological counseling service for members ».
CRISTINA BOWERNAM'S ADVICE FOR COOKING IN RELAX EVERY DAY
- Let's make a small "revolution" at home: just stay always on the front line. We involve in the kitchen also the partner and the teenage children. Knowing that they are autonomous is a relief that does not force us to exhausting gymkans when we have to (or want) to do something else.
- We prepare dishes in amount to keep them in the freezer. Thus, we cook only once with the advantage of having everything ready. Without puzzling over what to eat every day.
- We organize the dispensation: flour, oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion and chilli must never be missing. With these we can make many (and very easy) dishes, even at the last moment
- We establish every day the menu based on what's in the fridge and who's at meals. To anticipate any purchases and requests from family members. And against irritating surprises at the table.
- Let's simplify our life, starting with shopping: instead of going around the super shops looking for offers, we buy less but comfortable. With a few euros more, everything we need arrives directly at home with a click or a single exit. And the stress subsides.