In the fourth installment of our Father's Day Chef series we speak to Rick Gencarelli of Lardo and Grassa. Rick dishes about embarrassing his kids, apprehension about having two boys, and the joy of shooting hoops with them.
Father’s Day is coming up, what does Father’s Day mean to you and your family?
Father's Day means I can force my kids to hang out with me! I have two boys, Luke-14 and Miles -12. They're at an age where it isn't really very cool to hang out their dad. Father's Day means I get to embarrass them in public all day long! This year I'm thinking about wearing knee high gym socks and sandals.
How do you balance your work life as a chef and home life as a father?
Balancing work life and and home life will always be a challenge. Our industry doesn't allow for much structure and we are working when most people are playing. People always assume because of the growth we've had over the last five years that I'm always working and never home. Danny Meyer said that the courage to grow goes hand in hand with the courage to let go. I've had to learn how to let go over the years and I'm still learning. Hire great people and then get the hell out of their way. I do work a lot but the counter service, fast casual model of Lardo and Grassa means that I can be home for dinner most nights. That's important to us.
Tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a father and how you have overcome it?
My biggest challenge came before I was a father, when Sheila was pregnant. I was terrified of having boys, I felt horribly under qualified. My father died when I was very young so I didn't have a male role model in my life. I grew up with my two sisters and my mom. I never learned how to throw a curveball or build a treehouse. How was I going to teach my son how to fish or camp?! I felt like at some point my son would realize I am a fraud and be really disappointed. So then we had two boys. Haaa! It didn't take long to realize that none of that stuff I was afraid of mattered. I just had to be there and love them unconditionally. The rest we are learning together.
Can you tell us about something that makes you happy as a father?
Happy moments as a dad come at many different times for me, it's usually when I'm not expecting them. Random times when they are laughing together, I could listen to that forever. Shooting hoops in front of the house with Miles, going for a bike ride with Luke. It brings me tremendous joy to see them turning into young dudes and figuring out where they fit into the world. I love that I can wind back the clock and relive my childhood anytime with them. Turning into a young boy again and being in the moment with them is something that is hard to describe to anyone that hasn't experienced it. For a brief moment the stresses of the outside world disappear and I am totally relaxed and totally connected.
How do you celebrate with your family? Traditions or meals, etc.
We don't really have any traditions for Father's Day. Sheila and I usually like to use Mother's Day and Father's Day as a chance to get the boys out for a hike. They will roll their eyes a bit and realize that it's the day they have to be agreeable. We end up having a lot of fun. The day will surely end with all of us on the back deck and me cooking up a summer meal off of the grill. Sheila and the boys are my favorite people to cook for.