What was your first job?
My first paid work was training as a cook at Moro, which I loved. Teenage gigs included DNA research on sea squirts in Israel; antique restoration; and commissioning blown glass pieces.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
A homely feast at Alzina’s in Galliano (a Louisiana backwater) has to be number one. After that, Da Dora in Naples; or Bazzano in Sperlonga; or Passadis in Barcelona; or Autotreno in Bologna; or Cochon in NOLA; or Etxebarri in the Basque Country; or….
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Pierre Koffmann, for being absolutely everybody’s inspiration and father figure without any hint of conceit or arrogance.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
What is your biggest regret?
Not learning to play a musical instrument.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
When people fail to support each other.
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Where do you come from in Italy?
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Describe your cooking style in three words
Honest; emotional; authentic.
Most overrated food?
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
AA Gill was profoundly ambivalent about my cooking. I prefer to evoke an emotional reaction to food; even hating it is better than ‘meh’…
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
My mum. It is the greatest pleasure to cook for someone you love, and I do it often.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Try lots of things and do what you love.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A sharpening stone, as at least I could always have something sharp in the kitchen. But really, I could get by with any one item in my kitchen removed; perhaps because one doesn’t need much, or perhaps because I have so many other silly gadgets to play with.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
What’s your earliest food memory?
Eating an artichoke sat on my grandpa’s lap. He fed me the heart, pretending to be a pirate (he wore an eye patch from the cancer that eventually killed him).
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Taste it again.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Who knows? It could be right now, as I write the next wor….
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Tipple of choice?
Sazeracs and Boulevardiers and beers and rye and zweitgelt and… I have to say owning a pub is very dangerous!
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A MASSIVE plate of crawfish; they take forever to eat, and I could gain a stay of execution for days.