Tuesdays with Tastemakers – Dario De Conti
Dario De Conti was raised on his family’s farm in Veneto, Italy, where he funded his winemaking studies by making pizza at the local pizzeria. Dario eventually brought both these skills to Napa Valley, where he partnered to create Ca’ Momi Winery, Ca’ Momi Enoteca and Ca’ Momi Osteria. As both winemaker and pizza chef, you will find him either chatting about Ca’ Momi wines with the public, or in the kitchen prepping dough for his next masterpiece. As the voice of Ca’ Momi, you’ll often find Dario on radio and television stations and in local and national publications.
Why did you become a chef?
While studying winemaking at college, I started making at my family pizzeria to pay for my tuition.
If you weren’t a chef what would you be and why?
A surgeon, because it is about helping people.
What is your greatest strength as a chef?
Sensibility towards the art of making pizza.
What is your biggest weakness as a chef?
The limit of my knowledge.
What is your proudest achievement?
Making organic APN and VPN certified margherita pizza. It is not an easy certification to receive and it’s essential to Ca’Momi’s philosophy of being obsessively authentic.
What was your scariest kitchen experience to date?
The opening date at the restaurant.
What is your most prized possession?
They’re not possessions, exactly, but the people in my life.
What’s the oddest thing about you?
My Italian accent.
What is your favorite memory?
Making pizza, it is very soothing .
Which of the five senses is your strongest?
Taste. It’s a good sense to have as a chef and winemaker.
What is your biggest motivation?
Being helpful with other people.
What one food group would choose to be stranded with on a deserted island?
Fish. Luckily, there would probably be an abundance.
What is the difference between a good and great meal?
The passion of the chef.
Name three individuals you would like to have dinner with.
My father and Matthew and Terces Engelhart.
Who is your kitchen hero or mentor?
Roberto Caporuscio & Fabrizio Taddei.
What does the concept of “balanced meal” mean to you?
A meal is balanced when no one dish stands out as the best but you remember everything you eat.
What is the one thing you want people to remember about your food?
To remember to come back and eat more food!
Best comment made about your food? Was it by a loved one, guest or media?
I love when somebody appreciates the pizza crust, it is the heart of the pizza.