Cristina Bowerman, the Michelin star chef from Glass Hosteria in Rome, marries her rich culinary heritage from her growing up years in Puglia with her culinary training in the cutting edge food city, Austin Texas – along with extensive worldwide travel to produce her own unique brand of cuisine.
My conversation with Cristina Bowerman the Michelin star chef from Glass Hosteria is divided into two podcast episodes. In Episode 42 Cristina and I chatted about her background, what brought her to the culinary field, her philosophy of food and a bit about her own personal style.
In Episode 43 we chat more about Cristina‘s food philosophy, and delve into some of her most fascinating recipes and how they evolved. We also talk about Cristina’s son and how she approaches his education vis-à-vis food, plus a lot about Michelin Star Chef Cristina’s vision and her future plans as a chef, and how she gives back to the community.
Cristina Bowerman Interview, Part 2:
Cristina Bowerman's Background
Her Early Careers
Cristina started off in quite a different field and her first career was as a lawyer, and then later on as a graphic designer in the United States. When she eventually ended up in the culinary field her first experience was with the front of the house: everything involved in the running of a restaurant that isn’t food.
Back of the House, then Front of the House
The front of the house is anywhere customers go within a restaurant: the dining area, the bar, outdoor seating. Management of the front of the house is all about making every customer feel special from the moment they enter the restaurant, and all through the service to provide a great dining experience.
The back of the house is everything else that your customers don’t see and it’s the core of what gets great food to customers at their table. This is where Cristina has made her career not only as an incredible chef, but also in the great relationships she has cultivated with everyone who works with her.
Cristina Bowerman's Back of the House Relationships
Her staff has been with her for years and she says that sometimes she encourages them to branch out and seek other culinary experiences but the fact is they love working with her. This isn’t an easy thing to achieve given the stress involved in getting great food out to customers but she has managed to do it.
Michelin Star Chef Cristina Bowerman's Culinary Training
After Cristina trained in Austin Texas her end goal was to open her own restaurant in Austin. She realized that she first needed to build on her training so she came back to Italy and spent time working with some of Italy‘s top chefs, including Angelo Troiani at the Michelin star restaurant Convivio Troiani.
Cristina Bowerman's Culinary Vision
The Woman of Three Flavors, who Loves Flavor Spikes
Cristina has a very clear vision on what food is and how her food fits into the culinary world. Cristina likes bold flavors and sees herself as the woman of three or four flavors. When you taste, or experience, one of her dishes you are acutely aware of each ingredient and how all the ingredients work together to create a wonderful flavor experience.
Cristina makes an amazing risotto with anchovy, bresaola, orange and ginger. Instead of mixing in the ginger juice it's drizzled around the risotto so there's a flavor spike when you taste it.
She compares herself to other chefs who instead choose to create suggestions of flavors, when a dish has many ingredients (often 15 or even more).
Cristina also loves bold flavors that have flavor spikes like many Asian dishes. For Cristina classic Italian dishes like Cacio a Pepe are round; delicious but round flavors without flavor spikes.
The Thinking behind Michelin Star Chef, Glass Hosteria, Cristina Bowerman's Dishes
Before Cristina creates a new dish thought and study goes into each and every one. For example she makes a Cacio a Pepe dish with sea urchins. Sea urchins have a flavor profile that matches perfectly with Cacio e Pepe and manages to bring out the cheese and pepper flavors in the dish. Sea urchins are an important food memory for Cristina, going back to when she would skip school and sit on the rocks seaside in Puglia with friends eating sea urchins fresh out of the shell, and drinking white wine.
Cristina takes classic dishes and brings them to a new level. One of these is her liquid ravioli dish made with pasta dough so thin as to be almost a hint, and filled with 60 months aged Parmigiano Reggiano. This dish is perennially on the menu as a tribute to Stefano Bonilli, the founder of Gambero Rosso who passed away in 2014.
The plating of Cristina‘s dishes also offers a statement. Gorgeous and enticing, and clearly Cristina Bowerman’s. Here are a few of her beautifully plated dishes:
Cristina's Look is also her Statement
Cristina‘s personal look is also a statement; she’s the chef with the pink hair. She talks about this and how it came about in today’s episode.
Cristina Bowerman & Glass Hosteria during Covid
Normally Glass Hosteria is a dinner restaurant but now the hosteria offers a lunchtime menu since restaurants are closed in the evening. There's a 10 course tasting menu and a 6 course tasting menu to choose from.
Glass Hosteria Delivery options
Virtual Cooking Classes with Cristina Bowerman, Glass Hosteria
Cooking Classes with Cristina are a cut above other virtual cooking classes. For one, all the ingredients are purchased for you so you have just the right ingredients for the class. If you're interested in a class with Cristina then reach out to her. She also organizes other customized bespoke culinary events. Her special event deliveries include flowers and a next day breakfast.
How Cristina Bowerman Gives Back to Others
Cristina is a role model for women and shows women that a choice between career and family isn't necessary and that it's possible to multitask and do both. For example, right now Cristina is opening Glass Hosteria in China.
Cristina prepares food for the homeless every week for the Sant'Egidio Community. This is also the second year that she, along with other top chefs she's enlisted to join her, prepared meals over the holidays for the women at the Rebibbia Women's Prison in Rome.
Cristina also works with Telefono Rosa, an Italian organization that helps women who are victims of violence.
Cristina Bowerman is instrumental in an important onus initiative for underprivileged children: Fiorano for Kids.
She's also a Brand Ambassador in Italy for Action Aid, a global federation working for a world free from poverty and injustice.
Cristina Bowerman's Books
Cristina Bowerman has published a few books and the most recent was published in October 2020: "Chef Cristina Bowerman meets Eugenio Tibaldi". It's a beautifully photographed book, with 38 recipes and 38 works of art, and it explores the creative synergy between food and art. Another book delves into Cristina Bowerman's path from Cerignola in Puglia to becoming a Michelin star chef in Rome.
Two Recipes you Might want to Try
How about Cacio e Pepe with Pear Slivers for a new take on a classic recipe?
New Year's Day in Italy calls for the classic dish, Pork Sausage and Lentils (Cotecchino e Lenticchie). And if you've ever wondered about the history of this dish it's included with the recipe.
If you're way behind in this year's gift giving, or if you'd like to get yourself a gift then check out my Holiday Gift Guide for the Chef & Passionate Home Cook. It's a compilation of great ideas from chefs, culinary professionals and passionate home cooks alike. And remember: January 6th is the Befana when Italians exchange holiday gifts so you're still in time!
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