Giuliano Hazan is a chef, cooking teacher and award-winning cookbook author. He is the only son of Marcella Hazan, whose The Classic Italian Cookbook, published in 1973, has been defined “the foundational text for Italian cooking in the United States” (The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume I, p. 162). When I initially became interested in food history and started researching cookbooks and TV shows for my Smith College thesis, The Classic Italian Cookbook was the first to catch my eye. It seemed attractive (though pictureless), reliable and unpretentious (in a great way).
Understandably, Giuliano Hazan followed his mother’s footsteps in the kitchen – her gift for cooking and for producing genuine, extraordinary flavors has been an essential inspiration in his life. When Foods of Florence asked him why he decided to devote his career to food, Giuliano said, “It wasn’t really a choice, more an inevitable path I was drawn to.”
Giuliano started working as a cooking teacher in the early Nineties and, in 2000, opened a culinary school of his own. Located at Villa della Torre, a Renaissance villa near Verona, the Cooking With Giuliano Hazan program combines cooking classes and food and wine tours that often take Giuliano and his wife Leal to Tuscany. Their Tuscany Food & Wine Tour offers an insider’s perspective of Tuscan food and wine treasures, and includes visits to chocolatiers from the famous Tuscan “chocolate valley,” sheep’s milk cheese producers, honey producers, and artisanal pasta makers.
The Tuscan cuisine Giuliano prefers is the one that is deeply rooted in the land whence it comes, a cuisine consisting of simple, satisfying dishes. If he had to pick just one restaurant to have lunch at in Florence, it would be Buca Mario, a well-known trattoria, located in the cellars of the Palazzo Niccolini. Although very popular with tourists, Giuliano and his family love Buca Mario for its fabulous soups (the ribollita and the pappa al pomodoro are a MUST!) and the Fiorentina, a succulent T-bone steak.
Giuliano is familiar with Tuscany and shared with us one of his earliest food memories, which took place in Arezzo and involved a flavorful tomato salad he ate when he was just a little boy. “The sweet, rich flavor far exceeded my expectation of what a tomato could taste like, and for the longest time I associated Arezzo with tomatoes rather than its extraordinary churches and beautiful main square,” he remembered.
Tomato Salad (Insalata di Pomodori)
2 tablespoons Italian olives
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Cut the tomatoes into wedges, then add the olives.
Season with salt and pepper, then dress with extra virgin olive oil.