We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”Chef Jaime Laurita exudes a pure, positive energy. As a conscious, creative professional chef and designer, Jaime’s dedication to creating a quality-driven life — whether that be in food, wine or interior designs and art — has influenced him to travel the world in search of superior foods and stylish, artistic, sophisticated brands. As a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Chef Jaime Laurita was awarded a scholarship from the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF), which earned him his masters certificate in Italian Cuisine and ignited his desire to incorporate all of the exceptional aspects of Italian culture into his cooking. Jaime continued his education and honed his expertise by studying food and wine in the kitchens of master chefs in Italy and France. He travelled to many local vineyards and restaurants while acquiring a taste for the finest foods and wines this world has to offer. As a master chef, event and party designer and an aficionado of extraordinary cuisine and wines, Jaime has worked and toured with many famous celebrities and rock bands, including Madonna, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Placido Domingo, Josh Groban, Barry Manilow, Stone Temple Pilots, Prince, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more. Jaime’s artistic design sense, his creative cuisine and his unique style and passion led him to personally connect and collaborate with many of the world’s top entertainers. Within Jaime Laurita is the soul and talent of a genuine artist. His refined tastes blend impeccable, stylish design, epicurean, yet comforting culinary experiences and healthful, spiritual living. Chef Jaime earns the respect and trust of those with whom he works. Whether he is writing a cookbook with Sarah McLachlan, meticulously arranging roses for Madonna’s dressing room, designing and building backstage environments for Sting and the Police, or rocking a fiery barbeque with Aerosmith, Chef Jaime’s ultimate goal is to never disappoint his clients, and he always feeds their needs. To Chef Jaime, precision matters, and sophistication is all about the finer details. We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”Jaime has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show for having one of the coolest jobs in the world, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, numerous Food Network programs that highlighted his career, as well as talk shows like The Today Show. His latest television appearances include his part as a recurring cast member with his family on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Jaime’s talents and memorable home were showcased when he married his longtime partner at their private home and gardens. The episodes reveal Jaime’s magical design aesthetic and his love for gardening, animals and all things beautiful, especially pertaining to food, mood and music. After years of traveling with the world’s top performers and providing the best of everything to accommodate his clients’ lavish lifestyles, Jaime decided to focus his energy and talents into developing his unique brand of food and wines. Jaime is excited to come off the road and into your homes with his upbeat energy and creative quality product line. Branching out into the food and wine business is basically a dream come true for Jaime. Despite his astounding career and impressive history, the truth of the matter is that Jaime is a very grounded and spiritual person who simply aims to please other people by bringing them joy and comfort. He loves connecting with people, establishing traditions and creating unique opportunities for people to share special life moments to remember forever. We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”“Like butterflies finding that perfect flower to pollinate, I pride myself on selecting and creating great products that represent my unique style and culinary vision and perspective,” explains Jaime. “I love using simple, high quality ingredients, and I believe that adding good intentions to everything I do always makes for the best results. This feeds to the needs of my clients’ souls and the souls of those around me. I believe that everything you do should have your mark on it, somewhat of a signature that is uniquely and recognizably you. I love to instill lasting memories, but all in good taste, and my goal is to always strive to go above and beyond to provide people with only the exceptional, unique and meaningful moments to remember. So go ahead and energize your homes and lives with love and gratitude as I am proud to deliver these amazing products all charged with the power and energy of great food, mood and music.” What does your typical day look like?

Typical? What’s that? My days are pretty crazy and really very unique. As an eclectic entrepreneur, I do lots of different things on a daily basis. I’m always in some sort of a crazy meeting that usually involves some good food and drink. I surround myself with people and foodies. I wake up early and have to get in some form of exercise, walk my dog and then I hit the ground running. I like to get a lot of stuff done before noon. I tend to revolve my day around what I will be eating and my dinner plans are always a strong focal point of the day. I think meetings over breakfast are always the most successful in that they are always up to hour then you have the rest of the day. Because I’m in the wine business I like to visit some of my customers early in the day before they get too busy. I like going to Binny’s Beverage Centers in Chicago. I like talking to the managers and salesmen to get a pulse on the business that week. It’s really important to maintain all those relationships when you own the brand. I stand behind my brand at every demo. I love my wines from Italy.

Also important grocery chains like Sunset Foods and Mariano’s are super fun when talking to their high-end customers about my sparkling Italian wines. I’m the kind of person that does business as I’m walking down the street. They call me the mayor in my hood. I think your next big connection is usually sitting right next to you. I tend to love to cook at home so I do a lot of my business while dicing shallots over my cutting board, which acts as sort of my desk most of the time. I like being home for dinner. I spend at least an hour with my partner, Rich, talking about his day, any important or fun issues and planning the week at hand. To answer your question is difficult. I could be filming for a cooking or decorating spot on TV, helping someone design a home or business or toasting and selling wines. It’s a crazy life… it’s Steven Tyler’s fault he encouraged my to let my freak flag fly. I guess I’m not afraid to do it all and try to keep it all in balance. Life is for the living.

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?

I think organization is the key to any success. It’s important to have a plan and a team. I’m an island most of the time and if you are a one-man show you are taking huge risks. In this day and age you need good help. My best help is my husband, Rich. He and I have a fantastic working relationship. I’m a bit old school so I keep notes in a small notebook. I have a new business called smART decor wait until you see the amazing functional things coming out of this brain.

Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?

Yes, I have been fortunate enough in my life to understand early on that everyone in your life is your teacher. No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve paid attention enough to realize that the people around me are here for a reason and a season. I have been in some amazing places with some amazing people. I have seen a lot and I have heard a ton of information to better my career. There are so many people in my life who have inspired me and who have made a tremendous impression on me. Starting with my parents who raised eleven children, they taught me about perseverance and drive.

To answer your question about my career, Debra Sharpe, an entrepreneur from Chicago, actually inspired me so much. She was a worker and many times threw herself into the heat of the fire as we catered for the most famous musicians in the world. She is an earner and a role model in business. Many musicians have also inspired me. Madonna does a long rehearsal before every show she taught me about dedication and practice. This may sound cocky but the biggest impression ever made on me has been me. I never give up no matter what. My partners in my wine business are self-made men. I appreciate anyone that has the dream the drive and most of all the passion to become a star. Steven Tyler encouraged me to be me and to allow myself to be a creative and an artist with all of my heart and soul.

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”Where do you think the most significant growth will occur in the Food & Beverage Industry in the next few years?

In my opinion, the most significant growth will occur in the high end and specialty market sector of the food and beverage industry. We all have seen a rise in the craft beers and wines with funky labels in the markets. I think these specialty food sections are growing big time in places like, TJMaxx, Marshall’s, HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning. People are realizing that they can find cool, unique, and high-quality boutique items there, like my Chef Jaime Laurita Brand from Italy, at a great price. I find myself, as a chef, shopping there because I can appreciate the quality. They have people that work hard there to get the coolest stuff to people at the best possible price. I like that model. Check out my food and wines at chefjaimelaurita.com

What’s your first memory of your love for cooking?

My very first food memory was my grandfather baking baked apples. He had a specific way that they had to be done and he taught me that way. To this day, I serve them on my menu. Food is funny and it can bring him back to life every time I prepare them, even if that was my only memory of him, it was a good one that brings his memory back to life. Another crazy memory was that of my mom ironing eleven grilled cheese sandwiches on an ironing board with an iron. It shows you how you can improvise while saving time and money. My mom and dad are very good cooks and sitting around the table with 10 other brothers and sisters was always a good time to focus on the food. you had to be fast.

When did you know you wanted to be a Chef?

Great question. Truth be told, I just always loved being surrounded by food. I sort of emerged out of the pack of eleven kids at the right time, I guess. We had a family restaurant where I weaseled my way behind the grill. There I quickly realized that I had a special talent and an audience that loved my emotional food. I had the opportunity to go away to cooking school at The CIA in Hyde Park, NY and I jumped at it. I was in love with food from as far back as I could imagine. The smell of meatballs wafting up to my bedroom on Sunday morning sent me barreling down the stairs to help out in the kitchen. I loved helping the adults cook. I wanted to take it to a higher level. Although the education you get at home is golden, with cooking you have to spread your wings as the learning never stops.

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”Where were you trained, and how difficult was your training?

I trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park N.Y. After graduation, I was awarded a scholarship to the I.C.I.F (Italian Culinary institute for Foreigners), where I stayed in Italy for a couple of years learning about wine making and eating my way through the country. It was my dream, come true. It was not always easy. I was weak scholastically and really had no computer skills at the time. It scared me to think how behind I was in that regard. But I creamed them in the kitchens.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the artistic freedom I get with a job like mine. Creation is such a powerful thing and we are all creators of sorts, whether we know it or not. I love the fact that I can see my ideas unfold before my eyes. One day, I had this idea of creating a sparkling Moscato infused with Rose Petals and before you know it Bello-Boy Moscato was in the market. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind and passion behind it.

Describe your style in three words.

  • cool
  • unique
  • fragrant

What’s your favorite dish to create?

Risotto… mine is the best I’ve ever had. There I said it.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

These are great questions. I love living on the edge of creation. Actually half the time the idea is laying there right in front of your eyes. In truth the other half of the time I’m expecting it to happen. A great artist taps into the universal powers of it all and just goes with it. I spend a lot of time walking around looking at people and nature is a huge part of the creative process.

What four ingredients are necessary in your kitchen?

Garlic, onion, chiles and fresh herbs many dishes need a good foundation these are the bricks.

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”If you could prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you make?

I really want to cook for Oprah. I was on her show once and she ate My chocolate chip cookies and loved them. My relationship with cooking is really special. I have that whole Tita from like water for chocolate thing going on inside of me. Its very much a witch doctor mentality. I aim to please and heal. I charge my food and wines for celebration and remembrance. I think that Oprah Winfrey would get it and dig it. I feel it coming so get ready O.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Getting on Oprah was a proud moment. Also writing my first cookbook, Plenty with Sarah Maclachlan was not so bad. I think it was seeing my mom in the audience of The Rosie O’Donnell show made me think, “Holy crap” I think I’m going to make something out of all this hard work… if you work hard, somebody is going to take notice. I have had tons of proud moments must come after something I thought I could not accomplish.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My husband, Rich Lane. He makes me feel like my ideas can happen because he believes in me. In life, you should believe the ones who believe in you… even when you are being unbelievable.

What would you want to have as your last meal?

I love my food. I would go with an italian meal for sure. A buffalo mozzarella salad smothered with proscuitto de parma with heirloom tomatoes and fresh picked basil. Next course I would have to say its my Chef Jaime Laurita Pasta. It’s no joke, the best quality, bar none. I would want a great bolognaise sauce and a bottle of my prosecco. Panna cotta with fresh raspberry sauce.

Are there any foods you just don’t like?

I like everything and I can make almost anything taste good. Everything has the ability to be good, you just have to put your heart in it and find a good balance to whatever you cook with in your kitchen.

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with?

Fish its never the same just like humans. Some of us are harder than others. I love preparing fish, but I think it is the thing people are afraid of the most.

Do you do the cooking at home?

When I am out of town on business or touring, my husband’s go to meal is ordering out or making a bowl of cereal… so YES, I do all the cooking at home, but he is an excellent sous chef, dishwasher and he makes a mean pancake too.

Funniest kitchen incident?

There was one time where my cooking tent was washed away by a huge storm on a rock tour. At the moment not funny shortly after hilarious.

Another time it was my birthday on tour and they turned the kitchen into a strip club and lets just say that the strippers were the most insane characters from all walks of life. strippers embarrass me and that was the joke. I will never forget that cowboy. lol

We had a huge cake fight on tour with Sarah Machlachlan that was pretty sweet!

Favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?

Right now, it’s definately my smART decor knife and spice case. I love having everything in its place and the cool artwork is inspiring. I love my fine mesh graters as well. And my new cherry red Viking stove.

Tell me 3 things that you consider to be your cooking strengths.

  • Imagination– Give me anything I can cook it.
  • Fearlessness– I cook with reckless abandon and I do not add fear to my food.
  • Caring– If I am in a bad mood or not feeling positive, I won’t cook. I think love and gratitude are the two most powerful ingredients… if you don’t care about those two things, get out of my kitchen.

We ask Chef Jaime Laurita “A Penne for your thoughts?”If you had just one wish, what would it be?

That I would have my own TV show. I have learned so much from touring the world with rock stars and celebrities. I think I can change some minds about life and food, feed some people’s souls and make a difference in the world. I like to make people happy. I am a hell of a dancer and not bad to look at. People say I am the life of the party. I think life should be like a party great food, great music and one that you do not want to leave. xo

Are you working on any big projects now?

I am focused in on my Chef jaime Laurita brand of Food, Wines and Home Decor. I would love to take this thing nation wide and share the quality, and love for what it is that I believe in. I am working on getting a national form of distribution and thats my big goal. My products are beautiful filled with heart. People are raving already.

smART decor is my new baby. I love working with Adam Fried and Rich Lane on this artistic and clever project. We have some fantastic ideas and innovative, functional products that will take the design and decor world by storm. It’s all about good ingredients. This team has good legs and we will go far.

If you were to give someone just one piece of advice, what would it be?

That’s an easy one. I say be 100% yourself . Never be afraid to be the person that you were born to be. Don’t be afraid of your dreams and dream big. Life is too short not to take advantage of it’s cherries, while they are in season.

To find out more about Chef Jaime Laurita please visit www.chefjaimelaurita.com and find Chef Laurita on Facebook and Twitter.