Twenty years ago Paul Minnillo converted a turn-ofthecentury brownstone mansion into a world-class inn and restaurant called Baricelli Inn. Located in the heart of Cleveland's Little Italy, Baricelli Inn was named by Gourmet magazine "One of America's Best 50 Restaurants" and Food & Wine put it on its list of "America's Top 50 Hotel Restaurants." In addition to his restaurant and inn, Minnilllo is also a consulting chef for Continental Airlines and operates Baricelli Cheese Co., which distributes exotic cheeses to leading restaurant and specialty food retailers.
What the hell are you doing, Paul?
I'm relaxing in the jet engine of a Boeing 737.
It's a little freaky, but suprisingly comfortable in here.
Better than first class?
Hardly. For the last 10 years I've been helping Continental develop meals for first class international flights. The food is incredible.
Passengers start with an appetizer, such as a half lobster, then are served a pasta or salad course and an entree, such as long-bone veal chop, rack of lamb or osso buco. That's followed with a cheese course and dessert.
That is incredible.
International flights last more than 7 hours, which gives you time to make a nice meal.
Clearly, you've helped develop the cheese course.
I have, and it's quite impressive. The osso buco dish is mine as well. It won the top prize in an airline cooking competition. I beat out my mentor, Anton Mossiman, who I trained with at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
The pupil becomes the master. Why Baricelli Cheese Co.?
I kept seeing all these wonderful cheeses during trips to New York and it was my mission to bring great cheese to Cleveland and the Midwest.
You succeeded in a big way.
When I first started several years ago, I had only French cheeses. Now I have many American artisanal cheeses, as well as cheeses from Ireland, England, Italy and elsewhere.
How many in total.
80 varieties, some of which I age in coolers, the rest I store under perfect temperature conditions.
And you recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Baricelli Inn.
We've passed the test of time.
How's the home life?
I have three kids from a previous marriage. Michael cooked for six years with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and is now in the front of the house at Keller's Per Se in New York.
Wow. Who cooks at home?
My wife, Lisa. She made me a Bobby Flay dish recently and I teased her that she gets recipes from other chefs and not me.
Bobby Flay strikes again!
Bellwether Farms Carmody