What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
I had a very early interest, as young as age 12, learning to cook from my mother. She taught me how to cook dried pasta, especially with simple tomato sauce. My parents worked a lot running their wine shop so I cooked dinner for myself quite often and dried pasta was always in the pantry. I became mesmerized with nailing the pasta texture, teaching myself through trial and error, with my mother’s coaching for any questions I had.
What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
It’s hard to say just one, as there are many influences, but I would have to say the ingredients themselves. Working with pristine product is very inspiring.
Describe how you see your own culinary style/philosophyand how it has evolved over the years…
It started out basic, then evolved into complex cooking. These days I am letting the ingredient shine, but making sure to incorporate creative flavors and textures. As I have aged, my cooking has become more precise and clean. I’m manipulating the product just enough to properly enhance it, if at all.
Pioramanaged to retain its Michelin Star for 2016, how did you feel when you heard the news?
Humbled, relieved, happy and inspired. Being part of that club is a very big honor for me.
Tell us a bit about what you’re currently doing…
I am still makingPiorathe best it can be, working on new menu items and offering different menu styles and experiences. In terms of the fall ingredients I’m working with and winter ingredients I’m looking forward to, the endless supply of squash available now is great, especially kabocha, delicata and butterkin. We’ve been creating dishes that play on the individual sweetness and textures of these various types of squash. Also, I have a great new bronze die for our pasta extruder for making squash noodles. I am also pumped about the fresh wasabi plant I have been getting. I am using the rhizome for grating and the leaves for wrapping raw hiramasa [yellowtail]. The flavors of the fresh wasabi plant are so delicate compared to what you would find prepared in stores. Techniques of roasting in hay and curing meats in spice ashes are some of the winter workings inPioraas well.
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at your New York restaurant,Piora?
The one that they most want, that’s why I offer different options. If you want a true tasting menu experience, I have that for you in our dining room as well a lighter, prix fixe menu with options. If you are looking for a casual meal, I have that for you in the bar room, with a la carte options.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
Salt, olive oil, and pepperoncino flakes.
What do you think are the main themes that are currently popular on the NYC food scene?
Chicken sandwiches and burgers, ha. But there truly is a casual push going on now.
What do you see being the next movement?
The demand for quality is there, but people want quality food in relaxed environments. This has been the trend for a while. I don’t mind at all serving the tasting menu to somebody in shorts.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurantin the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
One on my bucket list is El Celler de Can Roca in Spain. Though there are a handful of restaurants in Catalonia that I would love to go to.
What’s next for you then? Anything interesting on the pipeline?
As far asPiora, I really want to focus on the overall dining experience. I would like, with whatever menu each guests chooses, to highlight seasonality but also to ensure that the diners have fun and let the restaurant take them for a ride. I want to incorporate more interactive courses, unique flavors and approachable ingredients prepared in interesting ways so dinner never gets boring.
430 Hudson Street
+1 212 960 3801