ANTE & THE FORGOTTEN FISH
After an exciting day documenting Ella create her delicious "healthy cake," Anthony and I finally arrive back in Supetar. On our way to return our bikes, we decide to introduce ourselves to Ante Derek, a recommended chef, at a local seafood restaurant, Konoba Lukin. We meet the host at the entrance and ask to speak to the chef. The waiter walks over to a table where a family is sitting eating their dinner and he begins to talk to the family. A hefty man with big red cheeks and bright eyes looks up from behind the waiter and smiles. He takes his napkin out of his shirt, places it on the table and walks up to us with his hands held out.
His smile is beaming and his energy is warm and jovial. I say in slow broken English that Anthony and I are The Recipe Hunters.. I then ask his waiter friend, Fredo, to tell him that we are documenting Dalmatian cuisine, that we write about people who are passionate about cooking and cook with their hearts, and to ask him if he cooks with love. Ante immediately smiles and says "yes, yes!" He sits us down at another table next to his family, lights his cigarette and takes out it his phone, he holds it out in front of us and begins thumbing through picture after picture of his dishes. He narrates the dishes of over 40 pictures of elaborate decorations of his food creations; rosemary and glazed vinaigrette over lamb ribs, frutte di mare, calamari, seafood risotto, and deserts. Anytime he is stuck on an English word (50% of the time) he yells at various waiters walking by to translate for him, what is the word....SQUID! SQUID!
He cannot not contain his excitement. At one moment he is exuberant and jovial over a colorful assortment of fruits and cakes he has decorated and the next moment, silent and proud in respect for a dark cuttlefish dish he has created. His dishes speak to him and he explains them as an artist would explain the significance and themes of his artwork. He is in love with cooking, from it's taste to it's presentation. "Ok you chose dish and I prepare...thirty minutes and I begin shift" Anthony and I look at each other and smile big. "Yes, yes," I say "tonight is perfect, thank you!"He pushes the menu over the table to us and points down at is as he says "you chose what you like," we look at each other again and nod and say "no, no you chose what you like."He smiles and exclaims "FISH!"
The next five hours are a blur of black ink, risotto, squid, pan seared shellfish, candles, frying pans, smiles, laughs, and broken English.
White Scampi Risotto Recipe
Ante tells us that his favorite part of his job is sneaking out into the dining room and spying his client's reaction to their first bite. This, he says, is why he cooks, for the gratification of seeing the joy and satisfaction on his guests faces. As Anthony and I take our first bite of the delicious dinner of seafood risotto and black squid, I look over Anthony's shoulder and there's Ante, his head poking past the entrance, smile beaming. I take a bite and cannot help but smile back to Ante and thank him for his delicious Forgotten Cuttlefish Dish and his White Scampi Risotto, Made with Love.