Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buon Cibo: Meet the Owners, Josh and Katie Belenchia

I first found out about Buon Cibo through my friend Todd, who lives in Hernando. As he knew we support locally owned restaurants, he continued to rave about the AMAZING food being prepared at this small restaurant in Hernando, MS. Unfortunately for me, as it is a whole 20 minute drive from my house, I resisted trying it for a few months. Todd finally won me over with a description of the pizza below, and  boy am I glad he did. Those are fresh Hernando figs (grown and hand picked by my friend Todd) served on top of a layer of proscuttio, combined with pecans and cheese. If that isn't described as a true slice of Heaven, I don't know what possibly could be. Below is an interview with Josh Belenchia, the person behind the divinely inspired pizza.

Fact or fiction? You were a chef at interim.  I was the Executive chef of Interim from Oct. 2009 to Jan. 2011.

What is your culinary background? Katie's culinary background?  I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY in Sept 2005.  Katie has learned from me and from cooking at home.

Fact or fiction? You chose Hernando b/c of it's proximity to local foods. Where are you from, and how did you end up in Hernando? I chose Hernando because I was already living in Hernando and thought that Hernando needed a good restaurant.  I am originally from Cleveland, MS.  Katie is originally from Hernando.  I wanted to work for a restaurant in Memphis, but didn’t want to live there, so we moved to Hernando.

Fact or fiction? You work with your wife Katie. What are your roles in the restaurant? How did you two meet?  Katie and I work together.  She currently does the desserts, keeps the books, manages the front of the house staff.  I cook everything(with help of course), I manage my cooks, keep the books, and everything else that comes along with owning a restaurant.  Katie and I met at Southern Miss.

Fact or fiction? You are dedicated to the locally grown movement.  I am very dedicated to the locally grown movement.  There is nothing like getting fresh produce, or artisan meats and cheeses.  It gives me a little thrill every time a receive it because I know that it is the best product that I can find anywhere.  I love it.

Fact or fiction?  Buon Cibo means good food. Please explain the name...why you chose it. Are you Italian or Italian heritage?  Katie and I were driving home and I said something to the effect of “I just want to have a restaurant that serves good food, Katie, look up good food in Italian”  so she got out the itranslate, and looked good food up and it came up “Buon Cibo”  we both looked at each other and nodded our heads and said we liked it.  That is about it.  My father is Italian, my mother is german, but she cooked mostly Italian food when I was growing up. 

Have heard some of the recipes on your menu are from your mother. Was she the one that got you interested in food? Nonna’s pies are what we call them.  They are all her recipes. My mother was a great cook, and I grew up eating really good food.  Her pies were amazing, and we always were very excited when she would make them.  I do give her credit for getting me interested in cooking.  I didn’t know I was interested till I was 20, but some things take a little longer than others.

What is your favorite thing to eat on your menu? Katie yours? My favorite thing to eat is probably the Cuban sandwich, Katies is Ham and cheese

What is your favorite thing to make on your menu? Katie yours?  My favorite things to make are probably the breads for a couple different menu items.  I really enjoy making ciabatta, and brioche.  Something about working with dough, soothes the soul.  Katies is chocolate chess pie

What is your favorite thing about running your own restaurant? Katie yours? My favorite thing is the fact that it is all ours.  We succeed or we fail because of our decisions.  There is no blame to place.  It is a heavy burden, but when you’ve worked for owners before, and they don’t grasp the concept or they have crazy off the wall ideas about how they want you to run their restaurant, it is nice to know that I have no one to answer to but myself and Katie.  We work well as a team and complement each others actions.  Katies favorite thing is working with me and being able to have our family come and be a part of it.

Please tell the story of how Buon Cibo came about.  I had been wanting to open a restaurant for some time.  I was getting tired of the commute to Memphis, and I was getting tired of working for other people who didn’t see eye to eye with me.  We decided to look at the old Docs space in Hernando one cool December morning on a whim.  I was very suprised to see that everything was still there.  Booths, tables, chairs, plates, silverware, equipment, coffee grinds, cash registers, etc...I figured I could get a restaurant started here at minimal cost to me.  Everything fell into place and Bam! I had restaurant. Buon Cibo’s menu was created around certain pieces of cooking equipment.  Main pieces were a double decker conveyer pizza oven, and a toaster oven.  All the refrigeration was available, there was a stove and a grill in the back kitchen.  I didn’t want to come in to the space and take all the equipment out, so I fit the menu to what was there.  I added a couple pieces of equipment to make it more of a production kitchen and it just worked.  Can’t wait for ya’ll to come check it out.  See you soon. 

If you are interested in trying the Buon Cibo, we are going to have a gathering there on the 23rd of August. We would love it if you joined us at the table of brotherhood. All are welcome. Hope to see you there. See the menu on the "Upcoming Memphis" tab.

Highland CourtShopping Center
2631 McIngvale Road
Hernando, MS

11AM -9PM

photos: again by sophorn aka norococo. thanks. they are beautiful.  

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