Setting The Standard: The Delmonico Way with Max Tucci

Max Tucci is an award-winning Author, Host, Producer, Director, and Entertaining enthusiast. Even with all those titles, he is the most approachable public figure, a celebrity you will want to be around and chit-chat over a delightful meal.

When asked his birthplace, his response had me chuckling, “New Yorker, Born in the city that is so sublime they named it twice. My ancestor’s on my father’s side are Italian (from Firenze) and Lithuanian on my mother’s.”

He humbly credits his artistic expression or gift not to himself but to something higher than himself. “For me, it’s not what I chose per se; I received it from the divine. We all have gifts. And I always say I will die empty, leaving everything God has given me behind. Some of my gifts from the source are the art of communication, storytelling, visual and creative- then there are the ones that I still am discovering- all of which I am grateful for.”

Gastronomy Of A Family

Max recalls fond moments with his beloved grandmother and her wonderful dishes. “Food, glorious food! Growing up, my Lithuanian grandmother always made her famous potato pancakes topped with caviar, and her blintz recipe was splendid. I could just see my beautiful grandmother in the kitchen, cooking for me with so much love that all these years later, I could still feel the love and taste the food. Growing up ‘Tucci’ means growing up at Delmonico’s and experiencing every dish served there. In my new cookbook, The Delmonico Way: Sublime Entertaining & Legendary Recipes from the Restaurant that Made New York! Published by Rizzoli New York– I share my stories of food, family, friends, iconic old New York, and glamorous old Hollywood. My grandfather, Oscar, created the legendary Wedge salad. Food has always played a major role in my life- in so many of our lives, and it brought us together. As a child, my Zia Mary would always make me the simplest recipe- pastina with zucchini in a delicious chicken broth -easy, simple, and made with love. We would watch Turner Classic Movies that mention Delmonico’s, and after all these years,  I still remember those bowls of soup served in Ginori and how a simple dish like pastina brought us together.”

Why do you think food is such a big part of cultural expression?

Food is a big part of cultural expression because it celebrates the World. It also is a reflection of our ancestors. Our ancestors figured it out. Depending on where they lived, they were in touch with nature and the gifts of each region. Our ancestors understood seasons and what nature produced during each of them. The expression of food is a reflection of our past, and we are responsible for celebrating them and what they created. We then become the future of food as each culture has its creations of culinary cuisine. How we experience food is how we experience life. 

What tips can you share with our couples regarding the art of entertaining at home and why using your cookbook will be so helpful?

In my book, the number one tip is to set intentions; you are setting the scene by setting intentions. The following tips I offer are all in the pages of The Delmonico Way, from legendary recipes such as an iconic Seafood Tower to Lobster Newberg. Baked Alaska to Champagne Frappe a la Glace! The advice I learned growing up in the restaurant, like putting salad plates, forks, and knives in the refrigerator so that while experiencing the salad, you are experiencing it fresh and chilled to perfection. Also, the art of drying glasses, ensuring that all the light bulbs are working and that the plates aren’t chipped, ensures one focuses on the details. This takes it all one step further, The Delmonico Way, The Tucci Touch– I call it. It all comes down to self-worth, heightening the experience, and the energy to be sublime. There is a saying that makes me laugh. “nobody notices the shoes of the flower girl.” Meaning “don’t sweat the details.” However, it is all about the details; yes, you don’t sweat them, but plan ahead, take your time and remember that you are the creator of your reality. If you want glamour to be present, then bring glamour. If you want joy to fill the room, be the joy in the room. Be what you want to see.

My grandfather was known for saying, “all are welcome at my table.” Invite the ones you love and celebrate with each other. Be sure to remember, while the event is happening, take a moment to be present, to be aware of all the work you put into the event, notice your guests, notice it all and validate it. It’s all about validation; we all want to know that we are seen, heard, and matter. Your guests may not remember what they ate or what wine you served, the music you played, or the flavor of the cake and the flowers on the table, but they will remember how they were treated. Treat everyone with respect and love.  Honor them and validate them! There is an art to Entertaining, and that art is different for all of us. Like artists who paint, the result is the painting, but the style in which the painting was done is unique, individual, and authentic to who the artist is. Be YOU. Yes! Take inspiration from all around, but in the end, do you! Bring “your everything” to the event, and I promise you-  all that is will rise up and meet you- it will be glorious! 

One of my favorite tips is what I call “A.E.M .”  After Event Memories. The next morning when it’s just the two of you, spend a little extra time together. Have coffee in bed and reminisce  together, share your favorite moments of the evening. What made you laugh or cry? Who was the best dancer, the best dressed, who gave you beautiful compliments, etc.? Experiencing these moments together matters. Why? Because you are creating new stories and memories that you will share with those you love. In the end, storytelling brings us all together, so it is up to you to write your life stories together. Just as beautifully as it is to write the stories, remember to share them with those you love and hold near and dear. Be the inspiration and shine on!

There you have it, create memorable moments the Delmonico Way–with style and class. So make sure you grab your copy of the fabulous book and gift it to a friend.

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