A chef looks to grow his culinary empire through a new brand of products. He's not afraid to tinker with past successes.
Giuliano Hazan learned a lot from his late mother — famed cookbook writer and instructor Marcella Hazan.
But he wasn't afraid to tweak one of her recipes when developing his Italian Tomato Sauce, one of the first products under his new Giuliano's Classic brand of specialty Italian foods.
His mother always removed the chunks of onion that flavored the sauce while it was cooking. “But at home, we would always fight over the onion because it was the best part,” he says. “It comes out very tender in the end and is sweet and wonderful. So I decided to see what happened if I mixed it into the sauce. I pureed the onion into the sauce and thought it came out very nice, so that's what we ended up doing.”
The brand is a new venture for the Sarasota-based chef, who has also made a name for himself through his cookbooks and the classes he teaches in Florida and Italy. “The cooking classes don't exist in a vacuum,” he says. “Cooking involves using ingredients, and you need to understand and know about the products to be able to use them well and appreciate them.”
Launched last October, the Giuliano's Classic line will include products he produces himself, like the tomato sauce, and products he imports from Italy. Those will stem from relationships he's developed over his years teaching classes and leading tours throughout the European nation.
A producer in Verona that still uses a hydraulic press makes Hazan's first import under the brand, Giuliano's Classic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Coming in April is a carnaroli rice made by a mill that's been operating since 1648.
He expects to keep adding to his product line, by both additional imports and sauces and other jarred items he produces. His tomato sauce and olive oil are found locally at places like Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg and Morton's Gourmet Market in Sarasota, as well as in other specialty stores nationwide.
Hazan is working with Gainesville-based distributor Fruit of the Boot to get his products on the shelves, particularly in specialty stores. His product prices tend to be higher than most others.
But Hazan is confident the market can support a sauce that retails for $10 to $12 and an olive oil that sells for $25 to $30. “When my parents first moved to New York in the late 1950s, my mother had to go to Ninth Avenue to find an artichoke,” he says. “Parmigiano-Reggiano was a rarity if you could find it. We've definitely come a tremendous way since then in terms of what's available and people's knowledge of food. A lot of people are becoming aware of these quality products and are searching them out.”