Making A Great Dinner Is The Same As Making Marvel Movies, According To Joe Isidori And Joe Russo

What does enjoying a perfectly cooked veal parmigiana in an Italian restaurant have in common with capturing a larger-than-life battle for the future of the universe between Captain America and Thanos? It would seem very little, however, two masters of their crafts say otherwise. 

Michelin star chef and New York City restaurateur Joe Isidori recently joined award-winning director Joe Russo, who alongside his brother Anthony is the creative force behind several Marvel movies including "Avengers: Endgame", for an interview shared on Tasting Table. The two met when Russo flew his crew to New York for dinner at Arthur & Sons; they quickly bonded over their Italian heritage and appreciation for each other's work. They also realized their very different careers are both tied to one passion: storytelling.

"We all still talk about that meal," Russo tells Isidori. "You tell a story to the folks in your restaurant every night ... you tell it through food, you tell it through your personality. That's the special part of food is that personality and connection to an audience." Isidori then points out to Russo, "You do the same thing through your own medium as well. We're both doing the same thing. We're both Italian Americans ... that took our passions and our mediums and used it to our abilities to tell stories and make people happy." 

How the craft of storytelling began for these Joes

Joe Russo's fascination with storytelling began during his childhood, growing up in an Italian family in Cleveland, Ohio. Every Sunday the large family gathered for Sunday dinner at his great-grandmother's table. "We'd tell stories to one another about what happened during the week," he says in the interview. "The most entertaining people would tell the longest story. That's where I really learned how to tell stories." That's a telling insight into both the spectacle and the duration of Russo's Marvel movies, such as the three-hour-long "Avengers: Endgame" — he understands that, when told well, long stories are incredibly engaging.

Joe Isidori grew up working in his family's restaurants, but was most drawn to what was happening out of the kitchen. "To me, it was more interesting to find out what was going on outside and hear people's feedback and interact with them." Russo says that along with the excellent cuisine, the atmosphere of Isidori's restaurant reflects this interest in his customers' stories.

Isidori shares another storytelling influence: The 1996 film "Big Night." It follows an Italian restaurant with perfectly prepared dishes that can't compete with a rival restaurant's energetic atmosphere. This resonates with Isidori's understanding of how, even more than good food, quality experiences are what draw people together. "It's such a life lesson, Isidori shares. "We're people pleasers and we do everything in our power to make people happy. You do it with your movies. I do with my food."

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.