What I Did in 2021 – Roberto Serrini Year In Review.

Quite a year last year … amid a pandemic with an uncertain future I found myself having perhaps the most interesting and meaningful year of my life. Everything has been deconstructed and has us all a bit more focused on what is our own personal reality. Looking back all I can say is thank you, because each day is a gift. Thank you to everyone that made last year so special, and here is to this year, where hopefully more magic continues to find it’s way into all our lives.

What did i do last year. oh boy. Well, my pandemic project of launching www.onemanonecamera.com kept me busy, having 30 projects in the can so far. Some literally.

To save time I made the short All The Pretty Things which featured a dozen brands all in one action packed 5 minute festival film. I call it advertising multitasking. I mean all those episodes of Workaholics aren’t going to watch themselves.

One of the products was an ultra rare quarter of a million dollar bike which we I did a separate doc on.

I got up to do a tiktok tricky piece for buzzfeed which was fun.

Then got freaky with freakmount by hanging babies, filming strippers, Juggalo scientists and armchair jet dudes. its a quality product.

There was of course things with wheels, Like this launch I did for Indians new FTR bike,

A quick edit for my Honda friends with their new line of ATVs

and a quick piece for Wolverine cinema digitizer. I mean it’s kinda a wheel, deal with it.

I got into the real-estate game with AirBnB, one of which was Conde Nast’s best Airbnb in LA … there goes my friends and family rate.

And got very coochie coochie coo as I helped launch the new Ray-Ban stories with Facebook.

and if we’re dropping names I did a big project with Netflix which I’d love to tell you about but I’m under NDA so yeah.

Last year I think we all nurtured an unhealthy relationship with food and booze, so I starting off with a new series about home bars. Shelter in place never looked so good.

I did a quick jam for Absolute where COVID was just a dream.

Then developed a show for the History Channel that explored the fascinating history about booze in America. It had it all … stop motion, fanciful animation, hardcore gotcha journalism, and this guy who’s been training to be the Bourdain of booze his whole life. I knew all that drinking in college would pay off mom.

non alcoholic but just as addictive I did a romantic branded doc for La Colombe coffee featuring chef Tim Hollingworth of Otium and his signature blend he crafted with them. They gave me a crate of coffee and I had the edit done in 23 minutes. #lifehack #roastandrender #caffinecutting

Crashing hard I did a few tasty films for Tasty, like this brie and butter … oh …. oh man. This got flagged a few times on the tok no cap.

I put my laughing cap on for Sweetfin, getting very serious about their new bento box like it was a BMW commercial circa 2004. All tuna interior. mmm.

I brought it back to the boot with a few Italian inspired films for Butter Pat Cast Iron. This is one job I didn’t mind retakes.

finally my torrid romance with Allen Brothers boiled over as we completed 13 heritage recipes with chef Olivier Rassinoux. No one told me in college that I’d have to rib eye, roasted bone marrow tordelli, and wagyu beef cheek risotto for work. I would have gotten better grades.

Putting on my dancing shoes I did a very surreal music video for Chris Sullivan of Joseph the Spouse and got smoke in my eyes with French rap group Kame House out in the desert

quick rando break. I was accepted into the Explorers Club, which is like Soho House for nerds, I bought this red 80’s looker, and started to learn blender. I made a bench. I know it’s not going to win any awards.

But what did win awards are some of my films (now that’s a segway) With 88 official selections and 26 wins my IMDB page is getting downright respectable. I think. I have no idea what any of this means. I did get this dope poster, LADbible shared one of my films which put me over the 10k mark, and I won not one, not two, but THREE Taste Awards which is like the Oscars for food and travel, their words not mine. I knew high cholesterol would pay off.

Alright lets talk travel. Somehow I found myself exploring Utah for Get Lost Magazine which launched their new digital platform, and DC discovering amazing nightlife and whatever the hell this is and with the smokiest and most fire steak I’ve ever had. Over to the Twin Cities to Fargo it up for 3M, and then down to Guatemala for Jet Blue to do a story on their maiden direct flight from NYC, where I explore the colorful sanatoria depths of Atitlan, the vibrant explosion of life in Chichicastenagno, and of course get my Zacapa rum hat on in Antigua.

My last destination was good ol Italy where I did a series of films for The Gold Hotel in on the Ligurian coast. The papers claimed I was seducing American to come visit. Well I do declare. Then Felini’d down to Rome to win at the Motorcycle Film Festival at Cinecita. While I had my best friends there we thought we should film episode 2 of Italy in Bocca.

So first we rented a 500 year old apartment on the Tiber and planned the ultimate roman meal from the cookbook series.

From there we went to the birthplace of the most roman pasta, Amatrice, which was sadly destroyed by an earthquake in 2016. The mayor took us around to the absolute best purveyor of guanciale and roman pecorino cheese needed to make this ambrosia, and somehow got the local nonnas to share her secrets with us.

Then we jumped over to Arricia which is the home of the por por por porchetta, where we learned the secrets behind this mouth gift from the gods.

Back in Rome I met with epicurean royalty like the only female Roman Michelin star chef Christina Bowerman , the vanguard behind the carciofi judiche at Nonna Betta, the oldest restaurant in Rome la Campana to learn carciofi romani, and the charming Michela Di Maria of my favorite restaurant Due Ladroni to learn the impossible truths of real roman cooking .

Overloaded with this profound knowledge we hit up the best specialty shops and fresh markets in Rome before returning to our ancient apartment to cook. Lemme tell you cooking in a 500 year old wood burning hearth is not like my Brevel toaster oven back in queens. Somehow we had the courage to invite my Roman family to dinner who actually know how to cook, and one very special guest. Rodo, who was the original illustrator of the cookbooks, who not only came, but gifted us two new illustrations which are so special to me I don’t even know what to say.

The entire night was magic. The fact that Me and my friends, who are complete nobodies, could reach out to all these people that share this common love for food, family and culture and bring it together just with our own passion is amazing. In fact, it was so special, such a perfect example of what life should be, that I ended up proposing to my girlfriend Jackie. I never thought 2021 would be such an amazing year, and all I can say is thank you, you all mean everything to me. Here’s to us all in 2022, no matter what comes at us.

12th Annual Taste Award WINNERS!

Well … we did it;)

Jazzed to announce that out of 6 nominations we took home 3 winners!

Italy in Bocca – Best Short Documentary

Sobrino de Botin – Best Travel Series

Sobrino de Botin – Best Short Documentary

I am so happy that these two films not only won, but just got to be seen and recognized by a larger audience … I’ve already seen such an uptick in views it’s amazing. They are amazing stories, and it means everything to me as a documentary filmmaker, and a fellow human, to share them. Andrew Zimmern was a key part of the awards last night, for good reason as he’s amazing and an idol to me, and he said he was thankful for being able to tell other people’s amazing stories. I couldn’t agree more.

Wow. What now? Well, working on a documentary called “Bring Back the Dish” (it’s really formatted for a series) where I find interesting recipes that have been overlooked and dig up their seedy past … first installment is about Penne Alla Vodka. Yeah, didn’t see that coming did you?

Also working on a documentary about a very special teacher and his very special motorcycle. Can’t say much but it will make you cry. In a good way.

But right now I’m going to cook up a celebratory carbonara … I mean it is 8am and I did have 3 Negroni’s last night;)

Congrats everyone, so glad you dug the films!

Rs

The 12th annual Taste Awards, oh my.

Well, tonight is the 12th annual International Taste awards in Hollywood, California, and I have not one, but TWO films up for 6 possible awards. I have no words other then wow. I am so excited to have these films be part of such an amazing event, one that has showcased the works of most of my idols.

Here’s the two films that have risen to the top…

Italy in Bocca – A journey of two friends to reconnect through four amazing dishes from the worlds funkiest cookbook collection.

  • Best Short Film or Documentary (10-40 Minutes)
  • Best Filmed at Home Episodes or Film

Sobrino De Botin – an intimate look at the worlds oldest restaurant and how it’s still making magical dishes after 300 years of continual operation.

  • Best Food Program – Online and Streaming
  • Best Food Travel Series – Online and Streaming
  • Best New Series
  • Best Mini Film or Documentary (5-10 Minutes)

Here is a livestream of the event tonight, 5:30PM PST:

Or join me on Facebook or Instagram where I will attempt to livestream me watching and quickly getting intoxicated off imported capocolla and Jura wine. 


Much love to everyone that made these films possible including Get Lost Magazine  Peter Boggia of Moto Borgotaro  Pete Crimi of Sound Lounge  Brad Stuart & Jackie Farris, and of course, my mother, who I promised I would thank first if I ever won an Oscar, and this might be the closest I will come;)

Fingers Crossed!

Rs

How I got my food show into the Taste Awards.

How did I get my janky little food show to be nominated for two Taste Awards? Short answer: no idea.

The day before lockdown in NYC my best friend and I decided to make a blow-out dinner. We didn’t need a pandemic to spark the idea of cooking a huge meal with friends, we do it often and with great relish, but this had the vibes of a last supper kinda jam, so we wanted to do something even more special.

Peter my buddy had been collecting this amazing cookbook series called “In Bocca” his entire life. They were extremely rare, printed in the 70’s on cardboard, and had these wild illustrations and very unique recipes from the 20 regions of Italy. He had recently found the last book to complete his 20 year quest of completing the series, so we thought we’d cook a meal from them.

As we live in Brooklyn, so grocery shopping is more than just hitting up the local grocery. We have specialty markets, like Pino’s and Caputo’s, or little mom and pop stores that sell impossibly good, authentic product that you only know of by paying years of ridiculously high rent to live in NYC. So we hit up these places to make the best version of these dishes we could imagine, sparing no expense.

Camera in tow as always, I documented the day, going from shop to shop, casually interviewing the purveyors, the butchers, the mongers and chatting about all of our favorite topic, food. This is the real pleasure of living in NYC for me, the people, the shared experience, and talking with folks who are masters of their trade, no matter if it’s in rotten milk or dead flesh, these are people that are dedicated to what they do, usually following a lineage of similar family members that if you let them will show you the magic that they know so well.

Fortunately New Yorkers aren’t really camera shy.

Back at home we dove deep into the books and got to cooking. Peter and I are definitely not chefs, but we do know how to cook, and we definitely know what’s good. So the process is always fun and interesting, there is constat laughing and cursing, and always a dramatic undertone of possibly ruining an entire meal. I will say this; I find “reality TV” really boring, but, there is one show I live and die for, and that is the Great British Baking Show. The reason is that the people on there are, like us, not bakers, but their passion, their love, and reason d’etre is baking. That’s where the authentic drama comes in, because succeeding at something you love can bring great elation, but failure truly devastated, and you feel it through the screen. Watching well seasoned chefs cook is like watching porn stars fuck; boring, Because everyone knows exactly what’s going to happen.

Food taste bests with drama, ask any Italian mother.

So there we were, a rainy, tempestuous day down in deep Red Hook, salty air cooling down the steamy kitchen. We had somehow completed 4 dishes and documented the process for better or worse. Friends started to trickle in through the door, a select handful who we know would be honest and good company, this, the last of gatherings for who knows how long, to sit at our table and share a meal.

Was it a success? Of course. Not because we nailed each dish but because food did what food is supposed to do when it is at its best; bring people together and satiate not just appetite but communion. I know it sounds hokey but Bourdain told me something once I’ll never forget, “just eat the fucking cake”.

Food can be elevated to this illusive level, too revered to speak plainly about (this is the beauty that is Chef’s Table). I think you can do that because of how powerful food can be, the feelings it can give you, the way it can control you, and the memories you can make around it. In reality, food is something that connects all of us, one of the very few things that make us human: we all eat. Doesn’t matter the country, the language, the color, the shape, the anything we all stuff our faces. These are wild times, a year has been turned upside down, we’ve all been looking inward in our confines and examining life a little closer. Food, this meal, and the idea of breaking bread, mean a lot more to me now, and while it can seem all very important, just eating the fucking cake is probably the most important thing to remember, because that’s what makes it real.

While the experience was amazing, honestly it was just another Tuesday night for us doing what we love to waste our time doing; cooking, eating and bullshiting with friends. What was really surprising was the love this project got online after I cut it up and made alittle website for it. Celebrity chefs and epicurean royalty were stopping by virtually to be interviewed and share their story with food and these books. I even got to talk to the illustrator of the series, Rodo, now in his 80’s in Rome, and still as passionate about these books as his paintings would suggest. We even partnered with the World Food Bank, and Food Bank of New York and did a live event with Atlas Obscura to raise money for those suffering from the pandemic. It seemed that these books connected not just me and Peter with what we love but a lot of people.

At one point I got a random phone call from a woman named Allesandra in Sicily. She was the daughter of Antonio Raspa, the very man that created and published the books originally. She was in tears, and couldn’t believe anyone even remembered these books. She told me amazing things about them that I would never otherwise know, like which recipes where from her mother, and that the handwriting printed in the book was from her aunt. To me, this was the real gift of the books, and what I think Bourdain would agree with is the real gift of food.

So how did this little film that one person shot one random night get nominated for two Taste Awards? I really don’t know, but I sure hope it was because they saw true love on screen. Now I’m just freaking out about even possibly winning. Just being invited to the party that has honored some of my greatest idols is like a dream.

If you wanna experience this little trip come on by www.italyinbocca.com and see the whole film, and buon appetito!