My philosophy of cooking and taste

I’ve been a chef for many years, I’ve worked a lot in restaurants and I’ve also had one of my own. This is where I really learned how to cook, with the daily committment, hard work and challenge of the restaurants; this is the experience to which I owe my current skills.

It’s also thanks to those years of hard toil in restaurants that some time ago I decided to change my life and my work. Stress in the workplace had taken the joy out of cooking, and it was time to move forward on the path of culinary art. I felt I wanted to share and humanise what I had learned so far. So I started to teach Tuscan cuisine and Italian cuisine in general; the local cuisines in our country are all daughters and cousins of one unique, great way to create and eat food.

I was immediately presented with several opportunities to express myself exactly as I wanted, from the heart. Things changed instantly and a new world opened up before me. Now my work is a joy for me, and gives joy to others. I always say that joy is a fundamental ingredient in good cooking. Remember that food is a vital material, and positive energy in the kitchen is crucial to finding good balance in life.

Arousing emotions in people; that’s what gives me pleasure in my work: a plate must be well presented but above all it must open the heart and transmit vitality. That’s why it is essential to cook with passion and love. This is impossible without humility in the kitchen – a feature that’s very rare in a chef. You know, just the word ‘chef’ already makes the head swell a bit, and then the world is full of culinary competitions to find who can make the most unusual dish and the most innovative combinations, or even who can create ingredients in the laboratory, always degrading the one eternal and immense provider for our tables: Nature! I like to call myself a cook, because this word maintains the central idea of a person who cooks for a large number of people. I love the contact with the prime materials; the ingredients, and the final recipients; the palates.

My great love has always been the kitchen, but only the Tuscan kitchen has given me so much, has allowed me to grow and to fully understand its origins and ancient flavours through its particular Renaissance characteristics. Tuscan cuisine is perhaps one of most complete cuisines in the world: we have mountains, beautiful rolling hills, lush green valleys and fertile plains, the sea, the countryside near the sea, lakes, rivers… In just a few kilometres the landscape changes, and with it its fantastic products and the ways of preparing them.

I believe that traditional home cooking is the only one that, through the creation of every dish on a menu, creates harmony between the ingredients and the people who cook them. For me, a cooking lesson is not a platform on which to display some superior skill or power; it is a magnificent game of aggregation of people, in a wonderful and mutual exchange. Food, if cooked with love and passion, is a great means of communication between people. Tuscan cuisine is well suited to this purpose: I continually have the proof that when we try to understand its alchemy together, step by step, a strong bond is created between the participants in the lessons. Imagine a crowded kitchen, full of people laughing, working, kneading and cooking, with the authentic odours and perfumes of the ingredients, the sound of pots and pans, joy; try to imagine and feel this family environment. There you have it; this is the real Tuscan kitchen, surrounded by nature and accompanied by fine wine to warm the heart, in good company, with everything flowing pleasurably together.

The most gratifying moment for me is when I sit at the table with my guests, and see that simple happiness on their faces, as we enjoy the meal we cooked together. Believe me, it is a beautiful thing to be at a table with people so different from one another, yet in delicious harmony!

Thanks to these lessons I have improved myself as a cook and as a person, and I know how important this work is for my life and my growth; not only professional, but also human: I love my job, I have many projects to bring to fruition, and for me the kitchen is evolution.

I have been lucky enough to work in harmony with very experienced cooks, who gave me lessons in life and food at the same time; wonderful experiences! But my one true master was Angelo Parodi, who gave me the basics of Italian cuisine and made me realise that cooking is my path. A heartfelt thanks goes to him and all my guests, who are such inspirations in my cooking and my life.