PACO met a cosmopolitan Executive Chef not as others

Hello Giovanni, first, could you give us a quick introduction of who you are and what steps have led you to this point in your creative life ?

I was born in Naples Italy.  At 6 months of age, my parents migrated to Boston, in Massachusett USA. Then at the age of 13, I returned to Naples to enter the Hotelier Institute “Ippolito Cavalcanti” where in 1988 graduated with honors with a State Diploma in Culinary Arts.

During the school years, I spent my summers doing “stages” or apprenticeships with some of the best chefs as well as emerging ones :  in 1984 with Chef Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée (May-August), in 1985 with Chef Roger Vergé and Patrick Lenôtre  at Les Chefs De France and Le Bistro de Paris (May-August), in 1987 with Chef Gualtiero Marchesi at the Albereta Hotel in Milan, Italy. This has been incredible experiences every time. Very demanding and exhilarating courses.

Alain Ducasse

Gualtiero Marchesi

Roger Vergé

Afterwards, in 1988 I graduated with honors and returned to the US. I Started to work as a Chef de Partie at the Blue Grotto, Italo-American Restaurante in the Italian section of the city of Providence in Rhode Island. A wonderful place.

After two years I went to the Culinary Institute of America and took an undergraduate study of Food Chemistry, graduating in 1992. So I went back  to the restaurant as a head chef in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, California before being hired by JW Marriott Hotels as a culinary assessor and Loss Prevention Chef. They sent me to different hotels to investigate  possible theft and update menus and teach new techniques. Years of incredible training and investigation in California.

In 2000 I was hired as the Menu Developer for American Airlines.  A completely different sector of activity. My main duty was to develop menus according to the routes (destination, duration of flight, 1st class, business class and economy class) and would go to the catering facilities to instruct catering chefs on how to assemble and partially cook the meals and plating.

Then I move in 2006 to the Dominican Republic as the Executive Chef of a luxury all-inclusive hotel where I was able to change all the menus and make some improvements to raise customer satisfaction to an all-time high (guests were interviewed by an external auditing company)

Risotto a la clorofilla y manzana verde, vieiras y camarones

I have stayed in the Dominican Republic since marrying and becoming a father. Yet another step in my life. I have worked in a luxury complex such as Casa De Campo before moving to a boutique hotel where I was able to implement new techniques of molecular cuisine, sous vide, textures etc.

Currently I am at the Zoetry hotel, a beautiful 96 room luxury boutique hotel belonging to AMResorts.

Finally, with such a diverse personal itinerary, do you have a particular culinary specialty or techniques that you prefer in your daily life ?

I do not have a specialty per se. I enjoy creating dishes that have different ethnic background.

I am the kind of cook that uses his vacations to go and learn new techniques with the best chefs who are teaching them in seminars, so I can get back to the kitchen, offer it to my guests and pass it on to my pupils.

Obviously, everything has its place. Breakfast and lunch somewhat bistro style and dinner is for the latest cooking techniques, rather smaller menus, more elaborated and a lot more finishing touches just seconds before the plate reaches the guest’s table.

Salpicon de mariscos con fruta tropical y vinagreta de vainilla-fruta de la pasión

I personally like to use the Sous Vide technique because it allows you to serve a much more healthier dish, by cooking it in a low temperature water bath, searing it off in a pan, plating it and sending it off.

Caprese en texturas

Ensalada de burrata, fresas, sandia y tomates con su champaña. Burrata, watermelon, strawberry and tomato salad with tomato champagne.

Sous vide, also allows you to use less nobles cuts of meat such as rump, eye round and so on, which are easier on the budget but are very impressive once they go through the sous vide process.

Tartar de atun con manzanas en 3 texturas (sopa, caviar y brunoise)

Magret de pato al vacio, fondant de papa, salsa de cerezas y Oporto, pico de gallo de mango Sous vide duck breast, potato fondant, black cherry-port wine sauce and mango’s Pico de gallo

Panna cotta de queso cabra y romero sobre salsa de Bellini Goat cheese and rosmary panna cotta ober peach and champagne (bellini) sauce

Especialidad local: Filete de chillo sobre arroz a la hoja de banano, salsa de coco y molondron tempura.

Lomo marinado de atún ahi en jengibre y lima, emulsión de aguacate y gelatina de bloody mary. Photo by Advantage Photos

I am passionate about sharing ideas and sharing experiences. This is why I will regularly publish some of my recipes and tips in the pages of Pepitas And Co. And I invite all enthusiasts, whatever their field of activity to do the same !

Photos Credits : Giovanni Astronomo – Video Credits : Zoetry Agua