Profile: Mortgage Broker Vince Lombardi
Vince Lombardi is a very good cook. He comes from a food-centric Italian family in Fall River, Massachusetts, and has indelible memories of eating well right from the beginning.
“I spent a lot of time with my grandma,” he remembers. “She was born in 1906, traveled the world, and was very skilled and adventurous with food and cooking.” She would take a four-year-old Vince to try various ethnic delicacies in their town. “Back then, people sold stuff out of their garages,” he notes. “There was this Portuguese woman and everyone, including us, went nuts for her bread.”
At home, it was a cornucopia of Italian and American classics, always cooked from scratch by grandma or Vince’s mother: panettone and steamed artichokes with a garlic-oregano-basil-olive oil dip; eggplant Parmesan, spaghetti and Caesar salad on Christmas; hot cross buns with candied fruit on Lent; and pizza nights with music on Saturdays. Vince’s favorite childhood snack was a slice of bread topped with chow-chow, a relish made from pickled vegetables and mustard.
Naturally, Vince was drawn to the kitchen, and when he was nine years old, he decided to make a birthday cake for his mom. Everything went well, except for the frosting. “I couldn’t figure out how to do it,” he says. “For years, everyone joked about the mess I made in the kitchen.” Sometimes he or his sister would burn a toast or screw up a dish, but they promptly got rid of it: “We buried everything in the garden so that mom wouldn’t find out,” adds Vince, laughing.
In college, Vince put his toaster oven to good use and started baking bagels, brownies, cookies and cakes, which instantly became popular. “My roommate gained 50 pounds the first year by eating my food,” he says.
Vince’s gastronomic education, combined with his love for entertaining (the other day, he made grilled lamb chops with roasted sweet potatoes for eight paleo friends), traveling and exploring the unorthodox, continues today: “Most recently, I tried fried ants in Colombia and reindeer meet in Sweden. Both were delicious.”
Age 41 — Hometown Boston, MA — Where do you live? Hollywood, CA — Occupation Mortgage broker — Signature dish Cakes and breads — Who taught you how to cook? My grandmother — Favorite kitchen tool My KitchenAid mixer — Always in your pantry Flour, sugar and lots of butter — Go-to snack Whatever fruit is in season, but peaches are my favorite — Favorite cuisine Italian — Do you diet? No, but I limit the carbs — Food addictions I can't resist spaghetti — Food allergies Peanuts — Food fad pet peeve None — Who’s your sous chef? None — Drinking while cooking? I can't do it! — What’s for dinner tonight? Thai, possibly Pad Thai — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? No, never — Best meal you ever had Grandma's spaghetti, and the chocolate cake from Flora Farms in San Jose del Cabo
Lemon Zucchini Bread
Interestingly, you won’t taste zucchini much in this tender, cake-like bread, but it provides moisture and adds tiny speckles of pretty, green color to the batter.
“I played with this recipe for a long time until I finally got it right,” says Vince. When he bought his house, he noticed the soil was very fertile. “Sometimes things just pop randomly out of nowhere,” he continues. “One year it was zucchini. I love fruitcakes and breads, so I incorporated it into a recipe. “
- Makes 1 loaf
- 2 cups cake flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Smear a 5x9-inch loaf pan with butter and dust with flour.
- Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then stir in the oil and sugar, and blend well. Add the lemon juice, buttermilk, lemon zest and mix. Fold in the zucchini.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix well until no flour is visible. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then take the cake out of the oven and make a lengthwise incision in the middle with a sharp knife. Return the cake to the oven and bake until golden-brown, and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40–50 minutes.
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