A timer goes off. His mung beans are done sautéeing. Cisco moves about the kitchen with ease, tossing the beans and dicing onions. He had always loved food and appreciated the art of cooking, but mostly just grilled outside with friends. About 20 years ago, this all changed for him. He embarked on his culinary journey during a month-long trip to Italy. What he thought was going to be another family vacation transformed his relationship with food forever.
He rented a cottage in the town of Alba in Piedmont, Italy-- one of the gourmet capitals of the world. “We used the cottage as a hub to explore Europe instead of staying in a hotel. It felt more authentic,” Cisco said as he chops a radish with ease. The knife seems more like an extension of his hand than his favorite kitchen tool.
Cisco has always been about authenticity and building a community centered around it, whether it’s in crafting sustainable furniture, creating clothes to showcase Angeleno-pride, or frequenting local farmers markets. “I’ve always been fascinated with farmers markets. I stopped by one in Alba, and started asking the vendors what I should make with their produce,” he said as he scoops the pit out of an avocado. “One night I decided to make what the vendor suggested and it turned out delicious.”
The meal was so good, he returned to the farmer’s market to do it again the next day, and then the next, and by the end of his trip he only ate at restaurants twice. He got so excited about the amazing flavors the merchants and farmers were teaching him about. When he got back to the U.S., the first thing he did was go to local markets and learn to cook from the local vendors.
The devotion to food grew and developed over the years, but he has always stayed true to the staples. “Pasta, tacos, those are the things I love to cook. I’m fascinated by the simple foods we all eat. I don’t really make fancy dishes, just ones that are good and simple,” Cisco said as he starts to throw his vegetables together.
It’s that fascination with the simplicity that helped start the tradition of taco night at our High Point showroom. Cisco used to bring in chefs to cook their specialties, but people kept asking why he would hire a chef when he is one himself. And so taco night was born!
This year, we had our first paella night at High Point. Cisco fell in love with paella while traveling to Spain in search of new fabrics. On one of these trips, his friend Nelly told him, “You like paella? My mother makes the best paella in the world.” And it turns out, she just may have been right. Cisco was blown away by the smells and flavors of this Spanish specialty. Nelly’s mother taught Cisco her secrets to making this perfect paella. After her mother passed away, both Nelly and Cisco continued to make her signature paella as a way of honoring her.
This spirit of good food and community has permeated the walls of the Cisco Home factory. We planted a garden of vegetables for anyone working or visiting to take home. “We had the space for it, and were paying for water anyway, so why not start a garden?” Cisco said as he throws the cooled mung beans into the salad, mixing everything up and adding the finishing touches to one of his favorite dishes.
For Cisco, it all ties back into his mission of honoring the handcrafted. He said, “We live in a culture of buying things in a package. Things are filled with preservatives. I think there’s something incredibly gratifying about pulling a carrot from the ground and making it into something delicious with your own hands,” he said as he sets the finished product on the table, ready to serve.
Want to try your hand at Cisco’s signature mung bean salad? Try the recipe below!