My love affair with food started at an early age, my granny used to take me to street fairs, festive carnivals and local markets. I was around four years old. I vividly remember to this day the bright red color of cinnamon icicle, the smell of roasted piglet porchetta with its hints of rosemary and garlic, the smells and sounds and colors. Everything I remember from that time seems of course larger than life.
Later on as the son of a US diplomat, I traveled the world and got exposed to many different cuisines and costumes. My safe haven, was of course the kitchen, where I would observe the cooks prepare local dishes for themselves and haute cuisine for the guests. Along the way, no matter where I was, what continent, what country, what language, the kitchen was the equalizer. The place where sounds and smells all too familiar threaded a common element between otherwise new and strange cultures. The kitchen was always the warm place.
Photography became my craft and passion, and as a fashion photographer I continued to travel around, later I entered the world of model management and as the international director of a famous agency in Tokyo my job was to travel the world looking for models. I must have circled the globe a couple dozen times in a ten year span, sometimes in big cities like Paris or Prague, sometimes in small remote villages and out of the beaten path places. This is the period I really became engaged in local cuisines of the world. Regional local ingredients, made by locals for locals. This would eventually be the founding stone for my culinary style. From roadside trattorias in Tuscany, to gipsy tapas ‘tablaos’ in Seville, to secular restaurants in Shinjuku, outdoor cafés in Budapest and Cajun shacks in the Louisiana Bayou, my travels allowed me to experience first hand wonderful food and meet the people who made it.
I left the moldel industry in 1999, went back to Brazil, found a shack in the islands and began the pursuit of a lifelong calling. It started with a fish shack by the beach, developed into a calzone tavern and ended with a trattoria. When all was said and done, ten years later, I had been a fisherman in an eight man whaler dropping nets for mullet and anchovies, an oyster farmer, a charcutier, a pizzaiolo, a chef-restauranteur and a food activist. As one of the leaders introducing the Slow Food movement into southern Brazil, helped organize local fishermen’s wives into cooperative efforts to avoid the eradication of the ‘Berbigao’ clam from the waters of the southern Atlantic. Partnered with university agriculture initiatives to export Acai berry and founded a movement to protect stingless meliponine bees, market their honey and revert the proceeds towards expansion.
In 2007 came back to the USA. Wandering through the New York Fancy Food Show in winter of that year I came across black garlic. This encounter as it turned out shaped the next years of my career. I became one of the first importers of black garlic in North America, produced the largest website on the matter in the English language, created Black Pearl Garlic, a single clove black garlic made of unique garlic only found at the foothills of the Himalaya mountains and became a black garlic authority. In 2010 I started my quest to build a gourmet website featuring artisanal food and food related items, small batch production, single source products, farmstead, homestead, local seasonal organic and hard to find items.
As of 2012 Chef Lippe Artisan Gourmet embarks on yet another traveling enterprise. This time taking the products on the road to the eastern coast of Florida. Farmers markets, food festivals, street fairs, all grounds for promoting and sharing wonderful artisan products with patrons.
And here I am on the road again… It feels like home.