Culinary Luminary Brings “Autentico” Italian to ORC
by Dennis Courtney, Director of Outlets
The Food & Beverage Team is excited to welcome Rolando Beramendi to Ocean Reef Club. Beramendi is on a mission to keep the centuries-old culinary traditions of Italian cuisine alive and authentic.
Born in Argentina, Beramendi graduated from University of California with a degree in economics. On a trip to the Italian Alps, friends asked if he would help them find U.S. distributors for their food products. Rolando approached numerous importers who told him the products were too expensive, unusual and esoteric, but Beramendi was convinced there was a market for such items. In his early 20s, he founded Manicaretti Italian Food Importers (Manicaretti is Italian for “little delicacies”). His intuition paid off as the demand for specialty, small, local, and regionally authentic food was about to explode.
“In the late ‘80s, the world was very different,” Beramendi said. “Californians were still eating iceberg lettuce in salads. Arugula wasn’t really available, except maybe in very small bundles on the rack where fresh herbs were sold. Kale wasn’t anywhere on the radar.” Word spread about Rolando’s import business and his reputation began to grow country-wide. Beramendi soon became recognized as the man who introduced Italian regional specialty food to consumers in the United States. He has since gone on to share his artisanal Italian offerings and culinary traditions with professional chefs and specialty retailers for decades. The items he imports come from family-owned businesses he has worked with for many years.
Beramendi’s approach to food is simple: cooking with what he has (what he describes as “supply-side cooking”), and relying on a well-stocked pantry filled with high-quality, flavorful ingredients that he can use to prepare dishes with little fuss. The ingredients he’s made available in the U.S. — olive oils, pastas, jarred fish, herbs, vinegars, tomato products, confections — make his style of cooking accessible and allow chefs to use regionally sourced Italian ingredients in their dishes.
Rolando is also the author of “Autentico”, a cookbook that serves as an introduction to the true flavors of Italy. In “Autentico,” Beramendi includes 120 of his tried-and-true recipes for hearty, uncomplicated meals the way they’re meant to be (not the versions that became muddled as they made their way to America). These are dishes that require 30 minutes to an hour to prepare, but taste like they took up the better part of a day. Instructions are simple to follow and ingredient lists are short and readily available. He defines autentico/authentic as “food made by someone putting their entire life, heart, mind and gratitude into producing a particular food product.”
Members are offered an insider’s glimpse into the farming and making of many of these products as well as his cooking philosophy and favorite recipes.
On Tuesday, February 25, Rolando will be the guest chef for the “Tuscan History” Vine to Table Dinner with Livernano/ Casalvento Winery at CH Prime. Dinner is currently on a waitlist.
Wednesday & Thursday, February 26 & 27, join him for the Italian Ancestry Showcase Class at Carysfort Kitchen. Rolando will be sharing his wisdom of what it means to make and eat an authentic Italian meal in this cooking class.
Saturday, February 29 will bring him to Gianni Ristorante. Working closely with Betania Salles, Chef de Cuisine, they will offer a three course pre fixe dinner menu with both full package price and a la carte priced items. Recommended wine pairings will be suggested with each course.
We hope Members will take this opportunity to learn to eat more “authentically”.