We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Francine Segan. Francine has written numerous books as a food historian covering America to Italy. She was also one of the judges for the 2014 Fancy Food Show. The other judges included Tina Ujlaki, the food editor of Food & Wine magazine, the buyers for Fresh Direct & Whole Foods and other fun foodies. They taste tested over 1,600 fine artisan products. We were able to catch up with Francine for a brief interview a few back! Check it out below…
SCBD: How long have you been cooking?
FS: I only started cooking a little when I finished college and was living on my own.
SCBD: How and when did you start writing your books?
FS: I wrote my first book, Shakespeare’s Kitchen, in 2004. I got the idea after hosting a dinner party for some actor friends performing in a Shakespeare play.
SCBD: Where did your inspiration come for your first book?
FS: One day, after seeing Taming of the Shrew, a Shakespeare play with a lot of eating scenes, I asked myself what Shakespeare might have eaten. What might Shakespeare have talked about at dinner?
SCBD: What’s the last book you wrote and where did inspiration come for that?
FS: My last book was PASTA MODERN: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy. I got the inspiration after meeting Riccardo Felicetti, the President of the Italian National Association of Pasta Makers. I realized in speaking with him that there was a lot we Americans don’t know about all the wonderful ways Italian prepare pasta.
SCBD: You also do cooking classes? Where are they? What was the recent class you taught?
FS: I do cooking classes, but with a twist. My classes include the story behind a dish and the story behind a ingredients. In NYC, I teach at Eataly and I.C.E. –Institute of Culinary Education. I also do classes for various gourmet chains including Dierberg’s, Draeger’s and King’s.
I recently taught a fun class on Italian pasta at Eataly in NYC.
SCBD: What’s your favorite quote on food?
FS: I love the Italian expression, “At the table you don’t age”—A tavola non si invecchia. The wonderful Italian philosophy that time spent at the table, eating and chatting with friends, keeps you young.
SCBD: What’s a recipe you recommend to an amateur cook?
FS: Learn to buy good pasta and learn to boil it. You can build thousands of meals from there. To start: Toss with good olive oil, chopped fresh garlic and some chili flakes.
SCBD: What’s a quote you live by?
FS: “I did it my way”
SCBD: What advice do you have for future book writers?
FS: Write about what you love. Try to find your own unique voice.
SCBD: What’s your fondest food memory and why?
FS: I loved watching my grandmother put up jars of ripe tomatoes with whole fresh basil in the height of summer. Her finished glistening jars looked like they were filled with huge rubies studded with emeralds. I felt so rich knowing we’d had this tiny bit of summer stored & ready to use all winter.
Thanks Francine for taking the time to do this interview with us! We can’t wait to make the recipes from Pasta Modern!