This post is a bit ironic. When I emailed Aldo/ Trattoria with this idea, I included the first “Fanning the Flames” post featuring Nourish in Sechelt as an example. Due to my lack of clarity in the note, Aldo was under the impression the questions I had asked Cheryl Chang were to be the template for everyone. But Chef Cogrossi’s answers were so good and such a reflection of the Aldo I know I couldn’t/ wouldn’t change the content. Read and enjoy.
How long have you been cooking?
Almost from the day I was born. [laughter]. I cooked in Italy for fun, before, but never then as a professional. My grandfather was a Chef, my father was always cooking. We had a house in the country, and every Sunday was this big thing – fifty to a hundred people would come, everybody would bring food, cook in a community kitchen. So all my life pretty much I was cooking. Now at least I make some money, not just doing it for fun…
Who or what inspired you to want to make food your living?
The thing here that makes food very important to me is the location, with everything… I work, I can cook, and I have all the nature around me and my passion for what I want in this kind of business… there could be no business without this… I love nature; food comes from nature, and everything is combined together.. It’s the best recipe.
Describe the food you’re making at La Trattoria Italiana.
Well, I don’t make it. Nature makes it first – I just take it, cook it, put it in a plate, and try to have the best appreciation for what nature gives me….. I use ingredients fresh from us, local here, and from the ocean here. But our specialty, most of our product is from Italy. That’s my roots, so the flavours, everything has to be authentic. The pasta is real pasta from Italy, the ingredients… you have to have these specialty products that are authentic, they come from my region, where I come from, and that’s how we can get the flavour I know from there to here, to Canadians.. I grew up in Italy, and I know that taste. Here we are making authentic northern Italian cuisine. And besides the authentic products that we order in from Italy that makes a huge difference, because you can’t cook real Italian food with only products from here, but also us growing on the site here at Ruby Lake zucchinis, tomatoes, the basil, the microgreens, salad.. that makes a huge difference. It has made for us, in the last six or seven years, with the gardens much bigger, it makes the product way more nice, fresh, with the flavour – you can’t beat that! You just pick it so fresh, every day, us got it fresh – to the table.
What do you see as your role in the Sunshine Coast food scene?
My role is a big role, because as a Chef and owner, it’s not just the food, you actually are part of the stewardship for the world, for the environment and everything… the food comes, but you have to have good sources, good sustainability.. so it’s not just about giving out plates of food.. you have to help educate the people to eat well, and to be part of the planet – because we have to be aware of where things come from.. so it’s a very big role for a chef in this day, in this new modern world.
Who in the industry has or continues to influence you?
I got my own influence, and try to grow as much food as possible, aim for sustainability… I have a passion for it. I like to eat well, so I want the same food that I eat, to give that experience to other people.
Where do you think you see yourself in 5 years? Aspirations?
In five years I hope to be still doing the same. I hope the planet is going to be better, people to be more conscious of the products and sustainability. I want to cook, and to help people…
What’s your favourite tool in the kitchen?
It’s a knife, because without the knife you can’t cut nothing. [laughter] Well there’s a lot of things… but I don’t really have a favourite tool.
What’s your “signature dish”?
It’s pretty hard to say, because it depends on the time of the year… it can change from seafood to meat, to the garden, so it’s pretty hard to say.. but my favourite thing is pasta, and the grill. I can’t imagine a restaurant without a grill…
What do you make at home?
At home sometimes I invent new things. I really like to cook, and it inspires me more to cook better things to have in the restaurant for the next season.
When you go out to eat, where and why?
First of all I go out because I want to have an experience, so I always try to pick the best item that’s in the menu, to try it, for flavours, quality… Mostly I like to go in fine dining restaurants, I don’t want to go out just to eat, I want a whole experience.
What raises your ire?
I feel mad when people don’t understand how much work is inside a kitchen, to prepare food. When people come and they think they know everything about it. When you try in a genuine way to give a good experience and people get pissed off about anything, or nothing. It’s hard to please everybody.
What’s your desert island pick for food?
Probably a coconut. You know, with a coconut you can survive if you are stuck on an island, because coconuts have fresh water inside, you can make food with the pulp, and you can eat it. You have almost everything you need. I mean, pasta is my favourite, or antipasti. But I would choose a coconut.
Last question Aldo; when are you taking me foraging?
Hello, Aldo? Are you there?
tel # +1 604 883 2269
15426 Sunshine Coast Hwy
Madeira Park BC V0N2H1