Born in Putignano, Puglia, Chef Lavarra’s passion for food stems from his childhood, when he watched his mother, who was his school’s cook, prepare simple food, full of love.
At the age of 14, Chef Lavarra started his training in a catering school in Castellana Grotte, to learn the techniques and basics of the local regional dishes, while working in local restaurants and pizzerias in Puglia in the Summer. He left Italy for Germany at the age of 20 and later to England to explore other cultures and types of cuisine. He started his working career at the Stafford Hotel then moving on to open the Regent Four Seasons Hotel. He also worked with Chef Paolo Simeoni to open the restaurant The Dining Room which gained national recognition for its creative Italian cooking style. Three years later, he reopened Toto’s Restaurant, a prestigious fine dining restaurant in Knightsbridge.
In May 1996, his career took him to Asia. He learnt a lot on spices, aromas, and oriental cooking techniques in Malaysia. In 1997, he was brought back to Italy by the famous Italian chef Anthony Genovese to open a hotel on the charming Amalfi Coast. He fell in love with the Mediterranean aromas and the natural produce that today became part of his style of cooking. During the winter of 1998, he went to Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saison, Oxford, entering into the world of Raymond Blanc, as Sous Chef.
In January 2001, he returned to Italy and became Executive Chef of Rossellinis, Palazzo Sasso. It marked a major turning point in his career as he was then recognized as “One of the Best Chefs in the World” by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and Rossellinis being awarded One Star Michelin. In 2004, Rossellinis was awarded the Second Michelin Star.
In April 2013, Chef Lavarra was appointed as Head Chef at restaurant Tosca, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. Tosca’s menu is influenced both by Lavarra’s time spent in Malaysia and also by the dishes served in Lavarra’s two Michelin-star restaurant Rossellinis, Italy, introducing Asia to a taste of Southern Italian food which Chef Lavarra comments, “They have never seen before.”
Describe your culinary philosophy in 4 words…
Taste, flavours, soul, innovation.
What is your greatest inspiration?
Ingredients inspire me because of all the ways I can work with them.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
What four things would you take to a desert island?
Vegetable seeds, fire, pots & pans, fruit seeds.
- 2 Michelin stars, restaurant Rossellinis
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Level 102, International Commerce Ctr.
1 Austin Road West
Kowloon, Hong Kong
852 2263 2270