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Interview with a WildBoar

Discussion in 'Life on the Edge' started by Toothpick, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    wildboarHead.jpg

    KKFlogoK.jpg Who are you in the real world? Where are you from?


    Wildboar KKF.png My name is David DiQuollo. I was born in Washington, DC and have spent most of my life in Northern Virginia. I am a co-owner of a small civil engineering firm that specializes in building exteriors.


    KKFlogoK.jpg How do you take your coffee?

    Wildboar KKF.png As cappuccino. It’s a morning ritual to make a couple in the morning for me and my wife before heading off to work; it helps set the tone for the day. Like knives, the world of espresso machines, grinders and beans can be a bit of a rabbit hole.

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    Pickled Tomatoes

    KKFlogoK.jpg How many knives do you own? Have you modified them in anyway?

    Wildboar KKF.png How many? Shoot, I ran out of fingers and toes… A couple dozen or so now. I have not modified any of them myself, but two Hiromoto gyutos have received Dave M’s ‘spa treatment’ and handles. And I have a couple knives that were rehandled by some of the handle makers.

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    KKFlogoK.jpg You're stranded on a desert island and you can only have one knife...what do you choose?

    Wildboar KKF.png DT ITK 240 wa-gyuto in AEB-L. It’s just a great all-around knife. Plus many of my other gyutos are carbon, and I wouldn’t want to spend all my time in paradise fighting rust from the sea air.


    KKFlogoK.jpg I read that you are a home cook. What is your favorite dish to cook?

    Wildboar KKF.png I can’t really say that I have a clear favorite. I grew up on spaghetti sauce (as we called it), so I learned to make it at an early age and improved on my mom’s recipe a bit the last few years. It has to have sweet and hot Italian sausages cooked in it for a bit in order to get that nice pork flavor. And while I have yet to tackle making sausages, I have played around quite a bit updating the meatball recipes from my mom and grandmothers.

    Another favorite from childhood is Italian sausage and potatoes, baked together in the oven with olive oil, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, etc. Browning the sausages and peeling the potatoes is the only thing that remotely requires any work. It’s about as basic as you can get, but the end result is delicious.

    A few years ago I started favoring pork shoulders for dinner parties and family dinners. It’s really easy to just slather the shoulder in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and throw it in the oven. For a fancier shoulder dish, we started making a Pork Genovese recipe from Lidia Bastianich where the shoulder braises in liquid containing 7 pounds of sliced onions. The pork falls apart, stays very moist, and the sauce can be used over an accompanying polenta side dish. And leftovers make a great pasta sauce for later in the week.

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    Sauce

    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget? Or just something you reach for time and time again? (besides knives)

    Wildboar KKF.png Mainly just spoons and tongs. But a couple of the spoons are unique because they were made by Devin and Del (and one from Will C is on the way). A tasting spoon made by Del gets the most use by far.


    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you have a favorite knife?

    Wildboar KKF.png For sheer performance, the knife that puts a smile on my face every time I use it is a DT ITK 150 wa-handled petty in 52100. It’s a razor! But it only wins by a nose, as I have knives from several of the makers here at the KKFora as well as a couple Japanese makers that I really enjoy as well. And we have a custom HHH petty with Devin’s feather damascus that is special, as Randy incorporated several items that are meaningful to my wife, and Devin’s feather damascus is always breathtaking.

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    Salt & Pepper Dinner


    KKFlogoK.jpg Let's pretend you have unlimited resources. What would your dream knife consist of? or do you already own it?

    Wildboar KKF.png This is a tough one. With unlimited resources, thankfully I would not have to live with just a single dream knife. I’d be looking to go for heirloom quality, with damascus that really highlights the ability of the maker. In my mind Bill Burke, Devin, Del, HHH and Will are among the best damascus makers out there right now. The blade would have to be long enough to make the project worthwhile, so a gyuto, suji, scimitar, etc.

    I would not necessarily want/ need the damascus maker to produce the finished knife, as there are some very nice examples where the blade stock, or even the forged blade, came from one maker, and the knife was handled and finished by another maker. I’ve seen this pulled off very well by Michael Rader using damascus from David Lisch. For an ornamental knife, I’d have a tough time passing over Randy Haas, as I’ve seen quite a few of his top-tier work examples, and the results are stunning; the damascus could be from Randy, Jr. or one of the other top-notch makers. For a more conservative looking knife with a focus on cutting performance, I’d want it completed by Devin, Burke or Marko.

    The petty we have from Randy Haas is very close to being my dream knife, but it was really made as my wife’s dream knife (thus the 180 mm length). Bill Burke has been working on a dream knife for me that I hope to have later this year. And over the next few years, I hope to commission a couple more dream knifes, especially now that I am seeing some of the really cool mosaic damascus Devin and Will are producing.

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    Pizza Night


    KKFlogoK.jpg What were your influences for cooking?

    Wildboar KKF.png My earliest influence was my mom, but not necessarily in a good way. Being the youngest of three kids, I typically had the responsibility for getting dinners started while my mom was still at work and my sisters were at after-school activities. So at an early age I cooked a lot of roasts and more packs of boil-in-a-bag vegetables than I care to remember. Salt and pepper were almost never used in our house, with the exception of garlic salt. Onion powder and dried parsley were our primary seasonings. My grandmothers cooked a lot, but we only visited them a few days each year, so all I ever really saw were pots of spaghetti sauce.

    In the late ‘70s, I saw a guy named Chef Tell on one of those cheesy news/ entertainment shows. He had about a minute to present a simple recipe each week. I tried a couple of them and the results were better than what we normally ate. That got me interested enough in cooking to eventually sign up for a cooking class in high school, where I learned some basics about planning a meal and also some basic cooking techniques. Sadly, knife skills were not even mentioned, let alone demonstrated.

    When I went to college I pretty much stopped cooking, and did not get back into it until watching Emeril Lagasse in the early ‘90s. I was watching for the entertainment value, but there was a lot of truth in his “It ain’t rocket science” musings. That got me back in the kitchen a bit, although I did not have much support from my wife (version 1.0). After we split up I took a couple dozen cooking classes offered locally by an ex-chef, as well as a few at a kitchen store. Then I met my current wife – who really loves cooking – and I really went back into cooking full force.

    A few years ago we built an addition and greatly expanded the size of the kitchen. It was badly needed, as when we got married we had enough kitchenware between the two of us to stock 4+ houses. We have since pared that down to only enough to stock 3+ houses, but we keep adding more things (sous vide machine and chamber vacuum sealer most recently). The expanded kitchen allowed us to start a cooking club that was initially populated with three ex-chefs, including the one who taught the cooking classes I had taken a couple years earlier. My wife and I were able to learn quite a bit from the professionals over the next year or so. Unfortunately one of them moved out of the area and a second one started to have work scheduling conflicts, so we are now down to just one ex-chef. But he has a great background in classic French cooking (fussy food, versus the simple/ rustic Italian style my wife and I favor). He makes some incredible dishes, and occasionally throws himself out there on something completely new that may or may not work out. That ‘fearless’ style is enjoyable to watch, and we’ve learned some good techniques from him.

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    Cinghiale Ragu


    KKFlogoK.jpg Favorite technique?

    Wildboar KKF.png Render bacon or pancetta.
    Brown the meat (typically chicken thighs) in the heavenly pork fat.
    Cook down onions and other aromatics.
    Add stock, wine, etc., put the meat back in and cook until meltingly tender.


    KKFlogoK.jpg Did you have a favorite dish as a child? What about today?

    Wildboar KKF.png Supposedly I loved hot dogs when I first started on solid foods. That graduated to barbeque spare ribs and roasted leg of lamb in adolescence. Macaroni with tomato sauce and mixed with ricotta cheese was also a favorite.

    Today I have a lot more favorites, with cinghiale con pappardelle (pasta with wild boar sauce) being up there on the top spot. Sadly the best version I have eaten was at a trattoria in Assisi, so it is not something I can have regularly. But pretty much any dish that contains pork, beef or lamb will be my favorite while I am eating it.

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    Smelts


    KKFlogoK.jpg Who is your favorite/most influential celebrity chef?

    Wildboar KKF.png Emeril Lagasse, as he got me inspired to get back into the kitchen. While I saw plenty of Julia Childs episodes when I was a kid I was really too young and/ or inattentive to learn anything from her.


    KKFlogoK.jpg Care to describe your dream meal? With who? Where? What?

    Wildboar KKF.png The setting would be on the cobblestone walk outside that trattoria in Assisi, with footsteps echoing off the stone facades and the gas lights dancing in the night. I’d have the same cinghiale con pappardelle that knocked my socks off several year back, and my wife would have the grilled meat platter again (rabbit, etc.).

    As far as attendees, I’m guessing this should be limited to people who are currently alive. So definitely my wife and son, as I would not want them to miss out on this memorable meal. There are some past stars from the soccer/ football and road racing worlds who I’d love to have in attendance so I could hear their great stories, but frankly I’d be happy with just my wife and son, and probably my dad. And Jacques Pepin and Warren Buffet would be welcome if they were interested. Oh, and any/ all politicians would be banned from not only from the restaurant, but from Assisi, until at least 24 hours after the dinner ends, lest they cause indigestion.

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    Heaven in Greve in Chianti


    KKFlogoK.jpg Can you tell us more about your cooking club?

    Wildboar KKF.png My wife and I really enjoy cooking and wanted to do something where we could expand our repotoire as well as just get together with like-minded people. A regular dinner with friends made the most sense, except not many of our friends at the time did much cooking. So I went out on a limb and reached out to several retired professional chefs I had met over the years to see if they would be interested in getting together once a month to cook, eat and drink. It took a bit of convincing, but they all decided to give it a chance. We also invited a couple people we were not necessarily close friends with at the time, but we knew were accomplished home cooks. The inital event went very well, thanks to a few bottles of wine that lubricated the attendees and got them all telling old kitchen war stories.

    Since we had just finished building a pretty big kitchen, it turned out that we hosted all the dinners. It meant a bit of extra work each month for my wife and I, but it enabled the club to meet regularly for two years. We've only held a couple club dinners over the last two years though, thanks to the birth of our son. Having a dozen people over prepping, cooking, drinking and BSing for 6 hours seriously interfered with his nap time, dinner time, bath time, etc., so we decided to go on hiatus until he gets a little older.

    The biggest challenge over the two years we met regularly was maintaining enough people to make the dinners worthwhile. Onc of the retired chefs moved out of the area after the first year, and another took a job working the front of the house at a restaurant owned by one of his friends. We infilled with a retired small-event caterer, and a couple people from restaurant and catering businesses that were brought in by the one remaining retired chef, but due to their work schedules most typically only made one or two dinners. So by the end of the two years we had added some friends and family members, but we lost the knowledge that the pros/ retired pros had gladly shared with us. Even so, there were always a lot of new (to us) dishes at the events, and we still learned quite a bit and had a lot of fun.

    For anyone considering starting up a club, I think the biggest challenge is gathering enough participants so there is always a full menu and lot of interesting dishes to try and learn about. There is never a shortage of people who are willing to show up and eat what everyone else cooked, but finding people who are happy to contribute and can consistently meet may take some work. But the rewards are well worth it!

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    Herb-Crusted Standing Rib


    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you have any final words for the members of the KKFora?

    Wildboar KKF.png Three things. First, the custom makers are really artisans/ craftsmen who work very hard to produce useful and beautiful tools that speed up our work in the kitchen and make the work a little more enjoyable. They put in long hours in hot conditions, and in the end charge what equates to pennies on the dollar for all of their labor. Many have ‘regular’ jobs, but those that have gone full-time into their craft often really struggle to provide for their families. In order to help support them, I feel the best thing we can do as a forum community is introduce more and more people to these makers and their products, so they can sell more knives, etc. and better support their families. So spread the word about these guys and their products.

    Second, most of the professional cooks don’t have it any better than the makers. So for you home cooks out there, do your best to meet the pros in your area, try out their restaurants, and spread the word about them. Support them as much as you can.

    And third, spread your passion for food. Even in this age of Food Network, Top Chef, etc., it sure seems like the average adult is totally inept in the kitchen. So do what you can to ignite an interest in cooking in your friends and family members who have been too intimidated to get into the kitchen. I grew up in the early days of convenience foods, and with the proliferation of microwaves the next couple generations had even less need to learn how to cook from scratch. So start hosting monthly dinners where everyone needs to kick in. Or invite over a couple people at a time and have them participate in the prep/ cooking. Get them involved, and turn them on to web sites, cooking schools, etc. where they can learn basic techniques and gain confidence. It will give them better independence and preserve their money for buying custom knives and going out to better restaurants on those occasions they do want someone else to cook for them.​
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  2. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  3. WarrenB

    WarrenB Contributor

  4. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    Outstanding work guys
     
  5. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  6. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    thank goodness i rest this after i had lunch, and man you have more knives then i have pens,

    Great read, thanks for taking the time for us
     
  7. apicius9

    apicius9 Founding Member

    Great read, thanks! Makes me miss my old wine and cooking group from Germany.

    Stefan
     
  8. WildBoar

    WildBoar Founding Member Contributor

    The knives on the red tablecloth are a mix of mine, some sent by a few of the makers (including a bunch that Butch brought), and a handful from ChucktheButcher. It was for the booth at the Cooking and Entertainment Show.

    So start up a new one! Ask around at work to see which people like cooking. Post on CraigsList. Get a handful of people together and get things rolling. You love cooking and good food/ wine, so set yourself up for success :)
     
  9. Mrmnms

    Mrmnms Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Thanks for sharing this Dave . Super food and great energy.
     
  10. Nice interview and an amazing collection.
    Like the attitude as well. Love of food, love of community, love of life.
     
  11. WildBoar

    WildBoar Founding Member Contributor

    See post #8 above. Those knives came from multiple sources; the pics are from a booth I ran with BoardSmith at a Cooking & Entertainment Show. I wish they were all mine!

    And thanks for the kind words!
     
  12. HHH Knives

    HHH Knives Founding Member

    Fantastic read. Thanks for sharing.
     

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