Published February 2010
If things had gone differently, Steve Samson would be writing prescriptions instead of dreaming up tasty Italian fare at Pizzeria Ortica, where he serves as executive chef and business partner to L.A.-based chef David Myers. Samson, above with friends, was well into Columbia University’s pre-med program before making the switch to food—and he’s never looked back. “He has a clear affinity for cooking Italian,” says Myers. “I thought if I ever opened an Italian restaurant, this is who I’d do it with.” Samson, who splits his time between his Playa Vista home and an apartment near the restaurant, is pasta-obsessed and creates most of the recipes at Pizzeria Ortica.
COOK WITH A CROWD
“I’ll cook alone just because I have to, but it’s much more fun to do it with other people.”
“‘Il Mestolo d’Oro’ is a regional Italian cookbook. It’s about 30 to 40 years old. It translates to ‘The Golden Spoon.’ I’ll use it as a reference for dishes that I make, such as lasagna and cotechino [sausage]. Some of my other books are my mom’s old cookbooks from Italy, from when she came over to the U.S.”
“Microplanes are always great to have around. They’re multitaskers and you can use them for a lot of different things.”
NO WINE SNOB
“I have a little wine collection, nothing major. Just 30 to 40 bottles of special-occasion stuff. My girlfriend had a bottle of ’96 Dominus, but I don’t have anything that I’ve spent more than $100 on. I still have a cook’s mentality.”
“I was scaling an onaga, which is a big snapper. My hand slipped and it went into one of the really big spines. My finger got totally infected and blew up, so I needed to have surgery on it. I couldn’t work for three weeks. So I have a nice big scar.”
“I really don’t eat much fast food. I’ll maybe do In-N-Out Burger once a year, if that. I like Vietnamese banh mi.”
“I have a hand-crank pasta machine I use maybe once every couple of months. When I’m not working, I usually go out to dinner. I really love what Florent and Amelia [Marneau] are doing at Marché Moderne.”
“I don’t really like raw garlic, strangely enough. It’s just too overpowering.”
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