What made you choose cooking as a career and how did your career progress?
I grew up in the village of Barolo in Piedmont, Italy, famous for its world class wine and food. When I was young we had no supermarkets nearby so all our food was grown or reared locally, so we ate fresh food every day. My grandfather had a wonderful garden in which he grew everything – from strawberries to carrots to salad. We would find a rabbit or a chicken, pick our vegetables and that would be what my grandmother would use to cook for our family for the day. I watched her cook for us and it became my
I eventually opened a restaurant in Barolo in my grandfather’s cantina (storage rooms) which was very successful. From then on I moved to another restaurant before working alongside Paolo Abbona who runs Marchesi di Barolo, travelling around the world showcasing Italian wines and cuisine with him. After visiting Grand Cayman in 2005 I fell in love with the island and told my wife (who worked with me in my restaurant) to pack up and come to Cayman. I finally opened La Dolce Vita in December of last year.
What’s your signature style of cuisine and how has it evolved over the years?
At La Dolce Vita the emphasis is very much on fresh ingredients prepared daily. Our pasta is only prepared on the day of service, it is never prepared and frozen beforehand. Our bread is made fresh daily and the menu specials change daily. I try and cater to everyone’s tastes, so we offer new appetisers, pasta dishes, fish and meat dishes and salads every day alongside the regular menu.
Do you cook at home? If so, what do you like to cook?
No, I don’t, but my wife is an excellent cook, thankfully.
What’s your favourite restaurant on-island (other than your own!) and why?
I have to say Pappagallo, for the quality of the food and also for the atmosphere. Every time you go there they treat you like family, from Vico (the owner) through to all the staff. We always celebrate important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries there.
It is a restaurant in which I actually worked for a short time – Nicholini’s in Hong Kong. It is part of the Conrad Hong Kong hotel and just seats between 60 and 80 people. It’s a really beautiful, high class restaurant and everything there is amazing – the food, the staff, the chefs.
Do you watch TV chefs? If so, who is your favourite and why?
No, never. If I get time to watch television I like to watch movies.
Do you have a particular favourite cookery book? If so, which one?
Not a book but a magazine called Grand Gourmet. It is a European publication. It’s not full of recipes as such; it talks about the concept of making food rather than giving you exact recipes. I like that idea because I am a big believer in creating food the way you like it personally. It also is excellent for highlighting what is going on within the industry in the rest of the world.