Csaba is a food writer and journalist founder of Luxury Books; she’s lived in Brazil, Japan and France but since 2001 she’s back in her hometown Milan. She started her career as a marketing specialist, but then she decided to go for a real twist and trained as chef at le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Her main occupation is writing cookery books, but she’s also working as TV chef in Italy and journalist for some food and style magazines. Keep an eye out for her new website, her Christmas TV show “Merry Christmas with Csaba” and the expected launch of a personal line of kitchen and lifestyle objects with her name.
Could you summarize your background and career path?
My family is half from Tuscany (mother) and half from Venice (father) but I never considered myself really “Italian” as I travelled really a lot during the first 30 years of my life. I started working as a marketing consultant when I was 22 and specialized in publishing and luxury travel. In Year 2000 I decided I need to settle down. I came back to Italy and started the idea of dedicating myself to cookery and food writing. I decided to try attending Le Cordon Bleu in paris (which I did in 2003) and then started my own publishing company: Luxury Books. My first cookery book arrived in 2004 (“La mia cucina in città”) and it was a successful title. I had then a stop writing for a while. I met my husband, I finally settled down in Milan and had 2 children. Edoardo in 2005 and Ludovica in 2007. In 2008 arrived “Merry christmas”, my best selling book (more than 40,000 copies in Italy) and my first TV show “In cucina con Csaba”. In 2009 I wrote “Country Chic”. In 2010 arrived my second TV show “Il mondo di Csaba” and I wrote “Fashion Food Milano”. In 2011 I wrote “Summer Holidays”. In 2012 “Celebrate In Venice”. I believe that the “big thing” is yet to come, I would like to sell my books abroad in coedition and be translated.
How did Luxury Book come about? How will it evolve?
Luxury Books was conceived to be the first truly lifestyle publishing house in Italy, concerning food. My idea was to gather the biggest number of International foodwriters on one catalogue. It is actually. For the future, I want to start producing and publishing Italian books abroad. Our aim is to export the Italian Style on paper.
Could you tell us something about your experience at Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris?
It was really hard, but healing. At that time I didn’t like my life that much. It was ok from the outside (or, well, more than perfect) but absolutely not fitting my idea of happiness. I didn’t want to travel all that time from the Caribbean / USA to Europe for work. I wanted to start a family and to cook and write to earn my living. Being Italian, I had the wrong assumption to be almost able to cook. I was really wrong. The Chefs at Le Cordon Bleu changed my cooking, but also my approach to food. I learnt discipline and obedience. I came back reborn. Ready for my new life.
Is there a chef you would like to collaborate with? Why?
I like Peggy Porschen in London for her “pink attitude”. She is a pastry chef and graduated at Le Cordon Bleu like me. I would like to cook with Nigella Lawson for a dinner with friends, just for the fun! I would like to work one day with Gualtiero Marchesi in his restaurant, to listen and learn from the man that changed Italian restaurants.
Could you please tell us about your most recent book “Celebrate In Venice”? How does food relate to a city like Venice?
Venice is the place where life, food and celebration of both are most evident in the everyday life. The city’s windows are full of food at any time of the day. My book is a cookery book about the food that you eat when you want to be festive and celebrating life through its flavors. Venice was the best place in my mind, as my childhood memories af this city where full of sweet and savory aromas coming from everywhere…
What was the first recipe that you learned to cook? Could you share it with us?
The first recipe I was taught when I was a child is castagnaccio. It is very easy to prepare, a Tuscan pie with chestnut flour. This is my mother’s recipe. You just mix together 300 grams of good quality chestnut flour, 200 ml milk, 3 tb spoons sugar, 250 ml / 300 ml water, 1 tb spoon of extra virgin olive oil. You must obtain a smooth and almost runny mixture. Add 125 grams raisin (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes). Transfer to a round glass or ceramic mould oiled or greased, level with the back of the spoon and scatter the surface with 100 grams pine nuts. Drizzle with 1 spoon extra virgin olive oil, then cook in oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. Let cool outside the oven before serving. No need to take out of the glass / ceramic mould.
How much business and how much creativity are there in a typical work day for you? Any special perks?
Creativity burst out as soon as I stop, so I try to keep myself very busy in order to be less creative and more business oriented! It is very important to run the business with a dream in mind and a business plan in hands. My working day is always full of energy. When I write or cook is more creative, when I do tv is less. My best ideas belong to the sky, that means I am really creative on an airplane…
Which three foods could you not live without?
Fruit and vegetables, any kind. French cheese. Red wine.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
Julia Child if she was still alive. Giada De Laurentiis, a Los Angeles base Italian chef also graduated at Le Cordon Bleu…
Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
I am mother of 2 children aged 5 (Ludovica) and 7 (Edoardo) and I consider family the center of my inspiration.
File under: Interview