Marc Forgione: Famous name didn't pave the way

Associated Press Updated: February 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm • Published: February 23, 2014 0

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Chef Marc Forgione undoubtedly has made his father proud, but he's also made his mother mad.

In writing his first cookbook, Forgione was loath to dumb down the creative but complex recipes from his eponymous New York restaurant. So to make sure they were challenging — but not too challenging — for the home cook, he had his mom test a handful of the recipes.

She wasn't pleased, at first.

"After the first recipe, she called me up, and she was mad at me. 'This is too hard. Home cooks can't do this. Why are you doing this to me?' She was legitimately mad," Forgione recalled during a recent interview at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

Just follow the recipes and see what happens, he told her.

"By the time she got to the fifth or sixth recipe, she called me and said, 'I can't believe it, you were right, you made me a better cook,'" he said.

The book, due out in April, is called "Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant," and is billed as the "unlikely journey" of how Forgione became the youngest American-born chef and owner to receive a Michelin star in consecutive years.

His success may not seem unlikely given that his father, Larry Forgione, is regarded as an American culinary icon, but the younger Forgione says he hopes the book dispels the misconception that it all came easy.

"Everybody thinks there was this road paved for me and it was easy, but opening my restaurant was the most life-threatening experience I've ever been through," he said. "And I want everybody to hear that story."

Forgione opened his restaurant in 2008 during the recession, didn't take a paycheck for months, and had even drawn up a contract to sell it in 2010. Two days before his meeting with the buyer, he got his first Michelin star. So he gave it another six months. Since then, he's opened several additional restaurants and won season three of Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef."

But Forgione said he doesn't let it go to his head, and he's at one of his restaurants every day.

"I've never rested on my laurels, or gotten too caught up in the hype," he said.

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