Personally, Chopped gives me severe anxiety. The pressure of harmonizing baskets of obscure ingredients in 30 minute increments in front of three of the country’s most renowned chefs is more than I can handle (from the comfort of my couch). The ever-chill Giorgio Rapicavoli, on the other hand, dominated all three rounds and reminisced nonchalantly, ”BBQ fuckin’ squab, who does that?” He knows he’s got skills, and isn’t afraid to show them off. Taking Miami’s culinary scene by storm and impressing the city’s most seasoned palates, Giorgio is, in layman’s terms, killing it. We first heard about him after an awesome meal Stef appropriately entitled “drunch” at 660 at the Anglers. Post-Chopped, he left the Anglers and had the opportunity to reveal a project long in the works.
Enter: Eating House, a restaurant serving candied bacon, blazing old school hip hop (I mean…blasting), and boasting hot servers in flannel shirts and wayfarers. A place that previously only existed in my dreams. G and his team change the menu daily, raiding farmers markets on the reg for high-quality, little-known ingredients, and transforming them into palatable, ethereal, Nasturtium-topped dishes. Mind-boggled that they have to, essentially, create dishes in their sleep for next day’s service, I tagged along on a Saturday and picked their brains. We visited the Miracle Mile and Coconut Grove farmer’s markets, the latin Publix in the Gables (which, I guess, is redundant), and threw menu ideas back and forth for hours.
I scooped a bag of zucchini blossoms at the dwindling Gables market, but our jaws hit the floor in the Grove. Rows upon rows of crazy, fresh produce, nuts, herbs, salts, juices, and prepared food, G grabbed rainbow baby carrots (crudite with house made ranch), kale (fried, topping risotto), celtic gray sea salt (sprinkled on beet salad), and baby squash and zucchini (roasted veg). We spotted baby apples, looked at each other, and mini caramel apples were born. F-ing caramel-apple-immaculate-conception-brilliance. ”Remind me to get sticks.” I forgot.
I (temporarily) renounced law school for a day of farmers market pillaging, culinary experimenting, and cotton candy macaron brainstorming. We discussed the acquisition of a cotton candy machine. He told me how fellow cooking school students used to ask him to check their plates before he dropped out. We tasted vegan Indian food. I introduced him to Biscoff and made him stick his finger in the jar in the middle of Publix to taste it. He shoved five jars into his shopping cart with plans of Biscoff ice cream. We rolled our eyes at an earring-clad, food-snobby, asshole attempting to one-up G on Italy and Italian cuisine.
Anyone who’s eaten at Eating House knows that the food speaks for itself: inventive, clever, aesthetically-pleasing, and, most importantly, delicious. Anyone who’s met me knows I have a love affair with both their chicken and waffles and plans to blast Uncle Luke’s “It’s Ya Birthday” song for birthday celebrations. Giorgio is in an exceptionally rare position. He has the opportunity to cook exactly what he loves, test new ideas that either rock or fail epically (usually the former), and fulfill his restaurant dreams alongside his best friends. That, to me, is worth more than any Chopped prize. Luckily, Giorgio doesn’t have to choose.