Chef Alberto Sabbadini on how his idyllic Italian upbringing informs his food mission

Picture a tomahawk steak: a cut of marbled rib-eye beef bigger than your hand and thicker than your wrist with a white bone scraped clean, bigger than your arm, curving away from the meat and off the plate. It resembles, of course, a tomahawk ax, which was used by Native Americans mostly as a weapon, and mostly to kill Europeans.

Take it from a European: The tomahawk cut of meat kills them, too. Alberto Sabbadini says when he came to Colorado from Italy in 2000, at age 28, his perception of food was drastically altered by the seemingly aggressive, almost war-mongering, way Americans ate. The tomahawk ax wasn’t even the weapon Sabbadini first associated with the steak.

“The amount of beef people are eating is ridiculous,” he says. “Even like calling a steak a tomahawk, like a missile. How can you call a steak a missile?”

Sabbadini — executive chef at Colorado National Golf Club, chef at Meadowlark Farm Dinners and co-founder of the Boulder Butchery Guild — says a lot of funny things about American cuisine, and our perceptions of Italian food.

“Garlic bread? What is it? Like, is this Italian?” That’s what Sabbadini said when he first learned garlic bread was a traditional American complement to pasta. “That was, for me, shocking. To be considered Italian food, garlic bread… Our garlic bread you can toast it and then scrape it with a little garlic and that’s as far as you go. Maybe a little oil. It’s not butter, Parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic, and then it’s in the oven. And then to dip with a side of ranch? Like, dip?”

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