Being allowed into someone’s kitchen is a privilege. It is, in fact, the “behind the scenes”. Of a restaurant or an individual.
The kitchen of a private house is an intimate space. From the first coffee of the day to the last dish placed in the dishwasher after dinner, it is the place where the most intimate rituals of a family or a person are repeated every day. Rituals that – always – encroach upon obsessions. “There is one only criterion for putting everything in the right place”, I reply to anyone who offers to help me tidy up the kitchen: “that is, mine!”. Even – and perhaps even more so – when the kitchen is not, as in European style, a room separated from the rest of the house by a door and walls. If it is American-style, where everything happens in the open space, only those on the same wavelength can enter where we cook.
The kitchen of a restaurant, on the other hand, is a team ground. Comradeship or disagreements, every feeling bounces between stoves, refrigerators and ovens and is amplified.
The chef Iosif Petrof of the Serenissima in Canea, Crete, one day welcomed me into his (empty) kitchen. The workplace is very small and directly facing the dining room, an intimate, cozy and refined environment like the Venetian palace of 1550 that houses the restaurant.
«We can’t afford not to be in harmony», he told me. «That’s why I don’t hire anyone who wasn’t my pupil, who didn’t grow up alongside me. We are a happy family, we talk about everything. Not only about work but also about our lives, about our problems. Cooking is not just art or pleasure or food. It’s engineering, chemistry, psychology. Cooking unleashes a flood of sensations».
When recording a show, a kitchen is simultaneously the set and its backstage.
During the production of the four episodes of Gusto Kosher Podcast Edition, cooks, sound engineers, microphones, computers and lots of laughter entered the kitchen of Lebonton catering. Strangers entered, who left as friends, after a hug and with a bottle of wine in hand. The daily noises – of lids on pots, of knives on cutting boards – have become the soundtrack. They have become a call for the listener, who, thanks to the chaos that becomes a symphony, can immerse himself in a real atmosphere.
Listening is a less obvious act than watching. For this reason, telling stories is an art.