Q+A: Carlo Mirarch, Chef and Restaurateur
Q: Before Roberta’s and Blanca became a reality, what initially drew you to the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn?
A: I had lived in the area around 2000 to 2003, at the Dekalb stop. It was cheap, and the spaces were huge. It was also relatively empty compared to other areas of Brooklyn, and the L was at least better than the G. We had a 3000 SF loft with a hot tub for $1,500 a month.
Q: Besides the obviously delicious food, people tend to compliment the overall vibe of both Roberta’s and Blanca. Especially the music. Is this a direct reflection of your own personal taste?
A: I think its important that when you walk into any space, be it a bookstore, a record shop, a bar or advertising office, it should reflect the sensibilities of those who operate it day to day, and I believe that is most successful when you have owner/operators, owners who are there every day, making decisions in real time, interacting with guest, clients, the staff, everyone, and everything. The space can then become a natural extension of their tastes and sensibilities. It feels like you are in a space where someone wants you to feel a certain way, enjoy a certain type of experience. It feels like someone cares about you.
Q: I’m sure you have a bucket list of restaurants. Tell us a few of them.
A: Mugaritz, Hajime, Ishikawa, Asador Etxebarri, Gus' Fried Chicken.
Q: At Blanca, the kitchen is exposed to the guests, allowing them to see each step of their meal be prepared - much like the way our factory sits in the middle of the store, allowing shoppers to see their jeans being constructed. How do you think this aspect of transparency adds to the overall experience?
A: I feel that the food we do at Blanca is about striving for purity.....purity of flavor, purity of technique, purity of ingredients. Of course, this is an ideal that we struggle to achieve every day rather than an actual practice, but I believe part of that process is allowing our guests to see what we do, as we are doing it, and interact with us throughout service.
Q: If it was someone’s first time eating at Roberta’s, what would you tell them to order?
A: Bottle of Lou Coulego Chardonnay, and all the house meats.......N'duja, Duck Prosciutto, Coppa, Testa, and some of our bread.
Q: And at Blanca, what dishes can’t you miss?
A: It's not a good idea to get up to go to the bathroom during the pasta courses.
Q: What would we find you doing on your days off?
A: I try to get to the racetrack whenever I can on my 899 and 675R, bearing that I might be at Peking Duck House or Ten Bells.
Q: How long have you been wearing 3x1 and what’s your jean of choice?
A: 3x1's of course! Honestly, Scott is not only an incredibly creative and talented individual but also an amazing and inspiring human being. We knew each other way before 3x1 and Roberta's, and I am incredibly proud of what he does. I wear them for every service, and on my days off.
Q: Tell us one (appropriate) thing about Scott that we might not know.
A: He sucks at cooking brisket.
Q: What’s in your bag?
A: Right now? A towel and toiletries so I can shower after the gym, a t-shirt, and water. Deep down I'm just a basic bitch.
Q: And finally, how is the 'Made Here' concept relevant to your life and business? Whether it’s ingredients, partners, giving back, etc.
A: To me Made Here is about doing things for the right reasons, with the right people. It's about treating people fairly and with respect, about loyalty and about lifting up others even though it might push you down. It's about understanding the difference between success and happiness, and being able to achieve both on your own terms.