Jigya, Dom’s ‘life partner’, was turning 40 on the Sunday, and I’d offered to host dinner at my place on the Saturday evening to celebrate. Jigya and Myra are good friends, so Myra was coming too, and I ended up cooking for twelve of us. (By the way, the new sofa did make it up the stairs eventually. Just in case you were worrying about it.)
In a rather compulsive moment, I’d set myself the task of cooking a sort of Indian fusion – Jigya’s parents are from Kolkata – and had ordered a tandoor oven on wheels that now sat expectantly on my balcony. It was just as well Vincenzo and his wife were amongst the guests; Vincenzo arrived at four o’clock to help.
Pausing only to take a glass of wine he proceeded to inspect the oven. He returned to the kitchen to inform me he considered the walls of appropriate thickness and was relieved to see I’d done a “first burn” – required to cure the clay. It turns out Vincenzo worked a summer vacation at an Indian restaurant in San Jose in his early twenties. I had no idea.
It was a lovely evening and the meal seemed to go down well. Vincenzo’s fresh paste – garlic, ginger, red chili, paprika, coriander, cumin – made the tandoori chicken, but he refused to take any credit. I joined him and Dom on the balcony after loading the dishwasher and we shared a nice drop of brandy.
The leasehold for restaurant number four had just been signed, and Vincenzo was keen to underline his intent to stick with Attenzi equipment; as if he’d dare otherwise! He asked me how business was going.
For fear of boring friends on a Saturday evening I reduced progress down to a 60-second summary, but he kept pushing for more. He seemed to relish the so-called ‘soft’ aspects in particular – the culture, the communication, the influence. And the innovation. I found myself avoiding the buzzword term, social business. And then Vincenzo said something somewhat surprising.
“How apt that you’re doing this at a cooking equipment company.”
The confused looks from Dom and me signaled he should continue.
“Well, all about food, you know what I mean.”
Our silence betrayed that in fact we did not.