COMMENTS

Chef Talk: Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni of Sapore della Vita

/
Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni of Sapore della Vita with husband, Fabio.

Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni of Sapore della Vita with husband, Fabio.

Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni is a lifelong chef and recipe creator who runs the 2009-born Sarasota business, Sapore della Vita, with her husband, Fabio Gaoni. The company distributes all-natural,organic aged vinegars, olive oils, honey creams and various rare Italian delicacies to gourmet retail shops and upscale restaurants throughout Florida. Insalaco-Gaioni’s original, small-batch Lick My Spoon Caramel Sauce was even honored at the 2014 Good Food Awards earlier this year.

Q: How did your upbringing influence your culinary interests?

A: My husband, Fabio, and I both grew up in Italian families that enjoyed spending time together around the table. We had delicious home-cooked meals prepared by our moms (mine in Massachusetts and Fabio’s in Italy). For Fabio, experiencing the different regions of Italy allowed him to discover the cuisines across the country. For me, it meant growing up Italian-American, focusing on large Sunday family lunches, and lingering for hours and talking about old Sicilian traditions. Little did we know that it was all training for what was to come: our business of importing Italian specialty foods and creating award-winning sauces, jams, chutneys and confections.

Q: What are some of our favorite dishes to cook?

A: Unique risottos dishes (my blueberry and strawberry are amazing); homemade ravioli di zucca with a delicious filling of butternut squash, sage and amoretti biscuits; and my vanilla bean gelato. My husband loves my cooking. He frequently tells me “This is la casa del paradiso,” which means “the paradise house.”

Q: As a small business owner, what have been some of the biggest challenges in making a name for yourself and your company? 

A: We have both worked very hard growing the business to meet the demands in the area. We knew that we would need to keep our business focused on personalized service for our customers but we weren’t prepared for how fast it would grow. The ability for the both of us to manage it together and keep up with the demand has been a challenge, as we have a great amount of distribution that just the both of us take on (restaurants, gourmet shops, the farmers’ market and our online gourmet boutique shop).

Q: What are your most popular products?

A: What is growing faster than we ever imagined are our original Lick My Spoon products, which we just launched in April 2013. This has us totally psyched! I create small-batch jams, preserves, chutneys, caramel sauces and confection spreads made with ingredients such as organic herbs, fruits, spices and liquors. The caramel sauces are great, and they are being sold locally and nationally, and at a popular gourmet store to begin in the fall of this year. We are thrilled.

Q: You won a Good Food Award earlier this year. How does it feel to be recognized for your recipe?

A: Awesome, especially because I was being judged by the discerning palates of representatives from Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods Market and Slow Food USA. It was quite a feeling of accomplishment to have Alice Waters place the winning medal around my neck at the awards ceremony. Most recently, my caramel sauce was chosen to be served at the James Beard Sunday Supper event in Washington, D.C. It has been an incredibly fantastic experience to gain such national attention.

SEARED AHI TUNA WITH LAVENDER FLOWER CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients:
Ahi tuna steaks (6 to 8 ounces per person)
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (suggestion: Gradassi mandarin-infused)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Lick My Spoon Lavender Flower Caramel Sauce
Coarse salt
Tellicherry peppercorns, freshly ground
Micro greens or cilantro
Lemon zest

Method:
Warm the oils in a sauté pan and brush them onto the tuna. Combine the sesame seeds, salt and peppercorns, and coat the tuna in the mixture. Increase the heat to high, place the tuna in the pan, and sear for one minute. Turn the fish to the other side, reduce the heat to medium and sear for one minute until the fish is medium rare. Remove the tuna from the pan and slice it into 1/4-inch slices, and drizzle with Lavender Flower Caramel Sauce around the dish for dipping. Dress with micro greens or cilantro and lemon zest.

Sapore della Vita (914-4256; saporedellavita.com) can be found Saturdays at the Sarasota Farmers’ Market, 1420 State St., Sarasota, 225-9256; sarasotafarmersmarket.org.

Last modified: July 2, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.
COMMENTS