Food Seattle Select Guide Interview with: Ricardo Larrivee
This time the Food Seattle (FS) Select Guide features an interview with Food Network Star Ricardo Larrivee (RL) about his passion for food, family and friends, and where he gets his inspiration to inspire others.
FS – Who/what would you say is your greatest cooking inspiration?
RL - I get my inspiration everywhere! For me, cooking is a family thing. I always start with what I know and what I was raised with. I also look to friends and what they eat. This is all complemented with what I see in my travels, what I read and what I experience. If I see or taste something I am not used to, I ask the host or cook, 'can I be inspired by you and your dish’ and then I and create something from there.
FS –What do you enjoy most about being on TV?
RL – I have been on air in Montreal for the last 10 years so I see the camera as my friend not as a machine! We film in my house so I never have to go looking for something; everything is very natural. My guests are actual friends; we just enjoy ourselves and the food, we choose wine we love and I do my best to keep it as honest as possible. Of course, it is TV and at times we have to plan ahead or do something over but our team has been together for 7 years and everyone knows each other very well which makes things run smoothly.
FS – What is your favourite dish to prepare?
RL – My heart swings between Italian and Asian – if I had to choose one though it would be Asian. It has everything I love about food; spicy, salty, sweet and sour. The cuisine is so different and I love the small pieces of food and the variety of sauces. In the last few years, I have also become a big fan of vegetarian food. True vegetarian cooking, with vegetables, tofu - nothing that is living!
FS – What was your inspiration for your new cookbook Meals for Every Occasion?
RL – Well, I am not a typical ‘restaurant guy’. In fact I do not even call myself a chef, I say I am a ‘good cook’. Every day I receive 100 - letters in French and about 150 in English, from people sharing what they like about food, what their experiences are, why they like my show or my recipes. This is a huge inspiration and allows me to understand what people are looking for in terms of recipes and guidance. When I visit different cities, one of the first things I do is visit the local grocery stores, and not the specialty gourmet stores, I am talking about the average store where most people shop. I look inside peoples’ shopping carts, I look closely at what the butcher or seafood counters are featuring. This way, I know what most people are buying and how they might prepare the foods they buy. The best compliment I can receive is if someone says ‘if Ricardo can do, I can do it’. I want people to look at the book and feel as though they can make anything.
FS – It's such a beautiful book, the photos are fresh and light, colorful and the reader can get a true feeling of how you prepare and enjoy your food!
RL – You think so? I am so glad. The book took close to 2 .5 years from start to finish and I am proud to say it is truly Canadian. This is the first time I did something entirely in English! In a few months, after some of my projects are complete, I will have time to promote the book, talk about it and share with people without the pressure of being rushed because of my schedule. I am really looking forward to meeting people and seeing their reaction to the book.
FS – When you are not working (which it sounds like you do a lot!) how do you spend your time?
RL – The great thing is that the more my company grows, the more time I have to myself. The people who I work with are so good at what they do that I trust their abilities and I do not feel I need to be there all the time checking everything over. In actuality, my wife Brigitte is the boss and I am the employee, just doing what I love!
In my free time, I love to garden. We grow tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, peaches. Brigitte also loves to garden. Sometimes while we are outside gardening, our three daughters (ages 6, 9 & 11) play and we can hear their laughter – it’s great. We each do our own thing but we are all connected at the same time.
We love to travel and each summer we set out to explore. Last summer we rented an RV and drove to the Maritimes. In a few years when the girls are a bit older we want to drive across Canada. I love the Prairies. In fact it was in Saskatchewan where I first came into my own, landing my first job in communications at CBC. I could not get over the vastness of the Prairies and I have seen some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world there. In my opinion the Prairies are truly the heart of Canada, where the culture is not influenced from either the east or the west.
This summer we will be spending 33 days in Europe! I am anxious for the kids to experience another culture. They are concerned about us not speaking the languages but I tell them not to worry. I want them to see that language is only one way to express ourselves and that we have so many others for example, food, art, music. I am really excited to see their reaction to different countries!
By Dana Mahon
Images supplied by Ricardo Larrivee
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