Chef/Owner, Maestoso

Past: Convivio Troiani, Marchese del Grillo, Villa D’este, Sirio, Cipriani Wall street, Mint54
Studied at: Gambero Rosso in Rome, Italy

What is the first dish you’ve ever cooked?
The first complete dish that I learned is spaghetti amatriciana developed from chef Angelo Troiani, a Michelin star chef in which I completed an internship right after my culinary degree. I went there four years before my stage and was incredibly impressed by that pasta dish. Probably that started my “willing to learn food” journey.

What inspired you to become a chef?
The biggest inspiration came from some big dinner parties that my grandfather used to cook when I was a kid in a very small town outside of Naples. Maybe 85 percent of locals attended these dinners. I saw how people experience happiness and pleasure through food. That was really inspiring. Making people excited by food is my favorite feeling.

Maestoso-ravioli-san-diego

How do you describe your style of cooking?
Adaptable. I learned from Italian/french traditions and structure, but my hunger to learn changed my style many times in my career. I still don’t feel able to associate a style to my cuisine. Hopefully change will improve it every year!

What’s your favorite dish to cook at home?
Pasta with onion, peas, and guanciale. Simple but delicious.

Maestoso-food-gnocchi

What is the best part of being a chef in San Diego?
I see in San Diego as an upcoming foodie city. I’ve been in vacation here back in 2005 and remember leaving with a promise to come back and do my part in making this sunny city a better place to dine.

What advice would you offer to anyone looking to start a culinary career?
Don’t! Just kidding. The advice I give to anyone asking is before doing any type of culinary school, you need to get some practice and experience in a couple of different culinary environments (like restaurant or catering or generic food business). See if the fatigue, long hours, cuts and burns, and all the ‘heavy duty’ still leaves you excited and passionate about what you’re doing. From there, choose your sector. See what place in the food business is more adaptable to you and from there, aim to conquer the world through food.

Photos by Dalila Ercolani