What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
I am a genuine Neapolitan fascinated by food from an early age. I used to believe my grandmother’s kitchen was a real restaurant where flavours, bubbling casseroles and rolling pins captured my childhood imagination.
When you are so lucky to live your childhood next to the sea, you have flavours from the sea in your DNA. I always loved going to the market with my grandmother andwalking around the market stalls.The fish were still alive, and ingredients werefresh and colourful. My grandmother always used to say“food is a precious gift from God”.
What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
Local and fresh ingredients.The magic to make people happy by cooking.My grandmother and her dedication.
Describe your culinary style…
Simplicity is the key, using fresh, seasonal and top quality (including DOP) ingredients. I like to enhance their amazing natural flavours and avoid to much manipulation and disrespect!
Can you tell us which chefs you trained under and what you learnt?
I first studied at the Art of Culinary School Ippolito Cavalcante,Naples.I started my career at the prestigious Grand Hotel Quisisana, Capri on theAmalfi Coast,an iconic five-star property which, every since it openedin 1845, has been the chosen hotel of politicians, poets, royalty and other influent and famous personalities.After two years, I travelledfrom south to north Italy, embracing different traditions and being inspired by regional recipes and ingredients.
Chef Alfonso Iaccarino was my first mentor, who taught me how to respect ingredients and the land from which they come from, focusing on their shapes and colours, combining them in a simple way to distinguish their own natural and unique flavour.
In the early 2000, once my Italian background fully explored, I thought it was time to enrich my curriculum with an international experience: I moved to Paris where I studied at the Ecole de Cuisine, by Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse. In this French environment my first experiments of fusion dishes started, while learning the French techniques and the elegance of the French cuisine. In fact I do consider French cuisine a pure art! I learnt how important it is the presentation in a dish, in order to be eye-catching and attractive to the palate.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
I cannot be in my kitchen without olive oil, fish and fresh herbs.
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at Twist?
It’s anew dining concept where all the senses are engaged.Twist is a journey around the globe, combining different cuisines, recipes, family traditions, experiences and lots of my fusion ideas.Cooking food with a modern twist whilst maintaining its nutritional principles and natural flavours, following the rhythms of the seasons and the freshness from the fields.Reconnecting to the simplicity of what the nature is offering, there is too much processed food on the market and we are not appreciating the variety of amazing ingredients we are still lucky to have!
How did you devise the menu and where did you get your inspiration from?
I always follow the seasons.Most of South America ingredients are unknown and give you the opportunity to explore and offer new texture and colour.I am fascinated by traditional Japanese cuisine, where hidden and very simple ingredients are rich in flavour. I do like to combine them with other culinary traditions. If we don’t know traditions we cannot innovate and learn from other cultures!
What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?
The opening of Twist: my own place where I can share my soul and all my experiences.Twist gave me full power, lots of responsibilities and some extra grey hair! It represents how far I went and how much I can still challenge myself…there is no reaching point and I do think we all need to stretch ourselves a bit further to appreciate our full potential!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?
- Be always curious and aware of what is around you. Even seasons are changing!
- Study and study and keep study. Knowledge is power!
- Have lots of self-control.
- It is important to maintain a global vision, to approach and respect other cultures. In my opinion this is the most amazing enrichment an individual, especially a chef to be, can be fortunate to accomplish.
What’s next for you?
To open a restaurant next to the sea, bringing back all the memories from where all started and get new inspirations.
What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?
Lima London. I am into Peruvian cuisine at the moment!
42 Crawford Street,