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story

Dario’s Story

Dario Cecchini

Lesson time 25 min

“We do not do this work for the money,” begins legendary Italian butcher, Dario Cecchini, and nothing has ever been more clear. The gregarious, eighth-generation butcher is never without a smile on his face as he holds court from sun-up through supper time in his red-and-white-striped butcher shop and kitchen in Panzano, Italy. In this introductory story, follow Dario through a day in the life, which includes the real deal business of butchery, and hosting dozens of visitors a day for cantina-style meals in his dining room. He talks about the dignified and joyous life cycle of his animals, and the craftsmanship his team applies to the end product. He explains the inspiration behind his butcher for a day program, and how to identify the perfect steak. The story ends with a family-style dinner, where t-bones get passed between strangers so everyone can gnaw on the scraps. From the outside, it looks like a very long day, but Dario insists “he’s never worked a day in his life.”

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I’ve always done this for the pleasure of it, because my dad, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, were behind this butcher stall. Good morning. We need some money to live on, but when they ask me, “You work every day.” I say, “I’ve never worked a day”. My job is not only continue the tradition, but it’s carrying a message, a spirit. Paradise. Carnivorous paradise. (soothing accordion ) (birds singing) They wanted to eat fresh things, and they wanted to leave. Yesterday he was supposed to come– the president of Roma. Fine, we take the reservation, then he says, “We want to eat earlier.” “But this is a canteen, we all eat together.” “But we want to eat earlier.” “You can’t.” “Then we’re not coming.” “Perfect. Saves me the trouble”. However, people won’t accept that. -: Well, are we ready? -: Yeah. Fine. (soft guitar ) I will try to prepare the perfect section of a Cecchini selection’s sirloin steak. That’s the idea and I’m carving a perfect section, clearly perfect according to the style of the butcher shop and also Tuscan style, from Florentine steaks to chops. to ribs. “Carne diem, quam minimum credula postero”, Eat meat and do not think too much to the future. Enjoy the moment. You can tell a steak is perfect. when it has a color like that, when it ripens well for over a month, when the touch is as fine as silk and when you’re gonna want to take a bite out of it. Fantastic. This is meat. (upbeat funky ) We are here every day, from seven in the morning until late at night. (sounds of restaurant patrons) We work miracles. We work more miracles than religions. Religions promise miracles for the afterlife, but we work miracles on earth. We make life happy with food and good wine. -: Good morning. -: Good morning. (sounds of restaurant patrons) (telephone ringing) Ready? Call your mom, please. Chianti breakfast. Dario: Good morning! -: [Restaurant Patrons] Good morning! Bread, oil and meat. Cheers. (relaxing Italian ) (restaurant patrons talking) -: You all right, Arisa? -: Yeah, everything’s fine. Enjoy your meal, everyone! Enjoy your meal! (restaurant cheering) (intense ) Dario: Viva La Carne! Are you all right? Welcome. Enjoy your meal. (restaurant patrons cheering) (cheery ) This is a seven-year-old Chianina beef, with wild pig. I mean, these are two free, noble animals and a bottle of Flaccianello, which is the best wine known. The cow was born and lived here for seven years. The pig was born and lived two years in Gaiole in Chianti, Two animals with a happy life and a dignified death. Raised by two artisans, Dario Cecchini and Lorenzo Chini, and in the end this salami, the noble work of two artisans, is exceptional. (soothing ) I started the “Butcher for a day” class, I created this lesson, because when a artisan starts to get old, one dreams of immortality, (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: So, our Butcher for a Day program it is some way that we have to leave lasting memories in the souls of the people who come through. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Because our problem is– (Dario speaking Italian) We are not religious. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: And we believe that paradise is right here on Earth. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Not in the sky. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: So, a sculptor leaves a beautiful bronze or a beautiful marble statue. (Dario speaking Italian) A poet leaves their poetry. (Dario speaking Italian) A painter leaves paintings. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: We’re not artists, we’re artisans. And so, what we create doesn’t remain. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Here’s paradise. According to Dario Cecchini. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Some Finocchio, fennel salami, Kim: and a glass of- (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: red wine and a splendid wife like Kim. Hold it here. (cheery ) Chef: The best thing to do is a few holes in the plastic to remove the seal. [Guest Chef] Can I try and elbow it? Chef: Yes. Chef: Use all the strength that you want. [Guest Chef] What is that doing? Chef: She is separating the pieces of lard because when you put the lard in the freezer it attaches (sounds of busy kitchen) Chef: First of all, Other Chef: Garlic. Smash of garlic. Black pepper. Other Chef: Just to cover all the top. Chef: A few drops of vinegar. Other Chef: And then we do cocia. Cocia is this mix of sea salt and dried rosemary. And with a movement of the hand this way, the salt fix the smell of rosemary. Making it more higher. Really. And you have to do it until you don’t feel the You see the rosemary? Mix to the salt completely. Chef: Okay, and now its your turn to finish the work. So lets follow me. Chef: You have just to mix it. So. So who wants? Male Guest: Anyone want to try? Chef: Who wants to try? -: [Other Female Guest] You gonna do it? Female Guest: Wow, It’s really heavy. Chef: Anyway its a really good cream for the hands. So at the end you’ll feel like Female Guest: Molto belle. Chef: For sure, its a new kind of manicure. (speaking Italian) (sounds of approval) (mysterious ) Nancy: So Dario, the very famous butcher in Panzano. In Tuscany. And every summer and every winter, I share a few meals with them. (restaurant patrons talking) -: And I fell in love with the way that they run their restaurants. Where Dario doesn’t even call it a restaurant. He calls it the home of a butcher. Nancy: And he sets out long communal tables where everybody gets to eat together. (Dario) Enjoy your meal, everyone! Nancy: Oh wow. (restaurant applauds) Dario: Ciao Nancy! Nancy: Ciao! Dario: Ciao Mike, my brother! (restaurant patrons talking) -: [Restaurant Patron] Nice to see you. Nancy: Good to see you. Kim, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down with Dario at this restaurant. Mike: Wow. -: Wow I know, Michael. L’Chaim. Nancy: Not just the food that’s fantastic. But just the experience at the table is what is so special. Mike: What’s his word? Convivio. Nancy: Convivio. Dario: Convivio, Nancy: Right? Everybody is family. (knives sharpening) (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: And so my grandmother explained to me how it was that she was forced to become a good cook. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Because my grandfather would invite everybody who passed by to sit down and have a meal with us. (Dario speaking Italian) -: And for him, it was really important that any friend who happened to come by would sit down and have a meal with us. -: And here we are. Yep. Always beautiful. (restaurant patrons talking) Nancy: So good. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Where Nancy is, there’s a party. Ladies and gentlemen! Dear guests welcome everybody and thanks for being here with us at L’Officina Della Bistecca. (crowd cheers) Carne diem! Enjoy your meal, everbody! (crowd cheers) Nancy: Oh he got a bite. Nancy: That never gets old. Kim: No. Right? -: Tell Dario, some people break bread together. And we break steak together. (Kim speaking Italian) Nancy: How many restaurants have I been to where you pass the bone down to strangers? Uh, not often. Right? I mean, when you eat here, it’s very similar to Chi Spacca. Nothing is like ornately plated. Everything is so simple. Large cuts of meat that just stand alone. -: All right, that’s enough. -: Sorry, it’s not enough. Nancy: I think I know how you met. Kim: it’s about 15 years ago when I had some friends in town who asked if I had heard of this crazy butcher. And I said, Oh yeah, I do know who he is. And so I came in to buy a steak. A steak for them. But I did it all wrong because I didn’t know that you were supposed to reserve a Bistecca a la Fiorentina- -: I even knew that. Kim: a couple days ahead. Nancy: The first time I came here, I ordered the steak ahead of time because there was not a restaurant here then. When you came, was there a restaurant? Kim: No, no, no, no. The restaurants are only about 14 years old. Nancy: Yeah. So, when Dario saw you the first time, did he know that you were the one? (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: He said, what I thought was, she’s too beautiful. Oh, fuck. Nancy: Oh fuck? (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: It’s that sensation when you really want something that you know you can’t have. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: Turns out it wasn’t so difficult. (restaurant patrons talking) -: The beans are so good today. Nancy: Did you have any beans? Nancy: That’s all lardo. Nancy: That goes for your potatoes. (restaurant patrons talking) Nancy: You didn’t get enough lardo in yours. (restaurant patrons talking) -: My favorite part, but I just love, love, love this olive oil cake. And this olive oil cake has made it to two of my cookbooks. -: That’s very impressive. And quite an honor. Nancy: when I think of Panzano, I really think of this olive oil cake. Can I cut into it? Kim: Please do. Mike: You don’t think of the steak too? Nancy: Well, I think of the steak too, but I really think of the olive oil cake. It’s so have you had this before? Guest: I’ve not. Nancy: Oh, you’re in for a treat. (soothing ) Nancy: Right? It’s so good. It’s just like, it’s a perfect way to end a meal. Kim: Nice, simple. -: I dream of it. (restaurant patrons talking) Nancy: Dario is just full of life. I mean his personality is infectious. And his philosophy is probably the most important part of who he is. Dario: A very important thing. Jim: Good to see you. Dario: Jimmy, surprise. Jim: Oh, all right. Kim: It’s not possible for us to bring all of the people that we care deeply about here to Panzano. (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: But I had this idea that maybe it would be possible for my dear, dear friends to be able to carry in their hearts A little bit of Panzano. (Dario speaking Italian) -: And so I, I decided that I needed to create a Republic, a Republic of the heart. (Dario speaking Italian) -: To be a citizen of a Republic (Dario speaking Italian) Kim: One needs a passport. (passport stamp clicking) Dario: It’s July 10th. Kim: 2019. Dario: Jimmy Goldblum. Jim: Oh, I’m so honored. (patrons applauds) Jim: Dario. Dario: Welcome a New Republic. Jim: Thank you so much. Oh, my friend, my friend. Nancy: Dario, I need my passport stamped. (relaxing ) When I go down. This is really restricted. Not everybody gets a passport. Patron: Wait, did you start Osteria Mozza? Nancy: Yes. Patron: Oh my God. I go to your restaurant all the time in Los Angeles. Nancy: Where, do you live in Los Angeles? Patron: I do. I live in Westwood. -: Male Patron] We both do. Of all of italian food in Los Angeles, yours is one of my favorites. Truly. And its not trying to blow steam up your ass, I promise. -: Oh, you might be but it’s okay, I like that. I’ve always done this for the pleasure of it. Doing this job every day, like I’ve been doing for 45 years is a little bit of good will, a little bit of luck and also a little bit of inspiration and sensitivity, of course. It’s a feeling. It’s not an algorithm, it’s not a code, a rule. Dario: Welcome back! Nancy: See you soon. The rule is It is flesh, it is blood. It’s not the spiritual part, it is the matter. It is the nobility of matter. The Gastronomic Republic of Panzano! (crowd cheers) Fantastic. This is meat. (Dario laughs) (relaxing )

About the Instructor

Artisan, restaurateur, and butcher Dario Cecchini takes viewers to his picturesque hillside village of Panzano in Chianti, Italy, where he showcases his signature dishes, including the Bistecca Fiorentina, Bone-in Ribeye, Olive Oil Cake, Essence of Chianti Seasoning, and more.
Dario Cecchini
Teaches his Family's Traditional cuisine
Known as one of the most famous butchers in the world, Dario invites you to his small Italian village to show you a day in his life.

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