After a trip to Italy with my ex-wife and son, I decided I had had enough of the restaurant life. My daughter was two years old, we left her with her Grannie’s, after all, she wasn’t even going to realize what we were doing, That was our justification. We walked the streets of Rome, Florence, Verona, Padova, Mantova. We drove to Lago di Garda and visit Malcesine and had ice cream in Bardolino and I decided that was where I was going to retire when the time would come.

So I came home with the mindset of a Wine distribution company. Still working as a waiter at a busy Swiss-Italian restaurant I began my research and study to achieve this goal. The more I knew and research I began to realize the massive investment I was going to need if I was to do this. At the same time, all my research popped up with gourmet products that come along the wine world. Tha was the answer; I was going to open a Gourmet Store, to begin with, and then move to the wine business when the opportunity comes.

Finally months later I decided it was time and I started the start this venture with a colleague from work. He was keeping his job since he was still not ready to go on his own. Not that I was prepared myself entirely but mostly done with the hours and the inadequate time I had for my family and personal projects. Yes, this is the answer for everybody that asks me how is this business because they would like to retire and open a restaurant. Haha, Gastronomy is like the mob; there is no retirement, there is no way out, It means no relationships, no family, no life. That’s why I am opening a Store, so I can have set hours and come home to kids that recognize me and don’t ask their mom who is that stranger.

And Le Chef Gourmet Store was born. I felt I was finally happy. I took a big breath, smiled and knew I was finally going to live like a decent person. I broke up the chains of slavery. Right! It was the fall of 2004. We had a good start, there was no store like that in Cozumel, we managed to get real premium quality products, and the right people found us. One day a guy came and asked us: What do you carry? We let him into the kitchen and the Bodega, and he helped himself. He pretty much made our week. He left and told us his girlfriend was coming on another boat in a couple of weeks, and he would talk to her about us.

The time came, and the Captain’s girlfriend arrived, she sent a lady to check the store, and after helping herself with the big spoon just as her colleague did two weeks earlier, she then asked me if I could help her to do some shopping in a regular supermarket. Knowing Cozumel as I do, I knew this would be a difficult task as we will probably have to go to several different stores to find all the items she wanted.  Unfortunately, it’s an island, and things are hit or miss around here. We jumped in my old Chevy Suburban and off we went and stopped at a supermarket. We filled up four carts with groceries with all kinds of products. To my surprise, everything she needed was found at the newest grocery store on the island. Then she said she was ready and needed a ride back to the boat. We came to Punta Langosta Pier, and they let us in with my truck. I lost my speech, we were tending the “MEDUSE,” Paul Allen’s yacht, co-founder of Microsoft.


In the mood of retiring in Bardolino where you would have a small flat overlooking Lake Garda, here is a suggestion for pairing this exceptional wine. Enjoy the WEEKEND!

Bardolino food pairing

Bardolino is a red, lightly fruity wine that fits with many dishes even those which typically would be served with white wine. In particular, subtly flavored dishes are good candidates for this wine. Here are some suggestions for meals:

Meat: White and soft meat such as pork, veal, beef, salami and prosciutto crudo (e.g., San Daniele or Parma ham).

Fish: Bardolino fits well with almost any fish. Especially fish with a stronger flavor work well such as tuna steak, swordfish, salmon and anchovies.

Poultry: Chicken, turkey and duck with a light not too spicy sauce.

Pasta and Pizza: All pasta varieties such as spaghetti, penne, and fettuccine combined with a meat or cheese sauce blend well, then again, almost all pasta dishes can be combined with a Bardolino as long as the sauce is not overbearing. Bardolino also fits well with a pizza with tomato, cheese, meat or seafood.

Cheeses: Young light and creamy cheeses such as soft goat cheese, Asiago, Brie, Port Salut, Feta, Mozzarella, Ricotta and lightly smoked cheeses such as Provolone.

Bardolino is best served in long slightly round glasses, and the best serving temperature is between 14°C and 17°C (57 ~ 63 degrees Fahrenheit).

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