When You’re Ready to Chow, Giorgio Pappalardo Is Set to Tickle Your Palate.
“We are the choices we make. “– Meryl Streep
Chef Giorgio Pappalardo wears more than one hat in Taiwan. He is the owner and director of Osteria by Angie — a fine Italian restaurant chain that serves authentic classic Italian cuisine, the founder of the natural wine importing company The Warehouse and the cooking school Skills, and the author of the widely acclaimed recipe book “Made in Italy 簡單, 就是最好的味道” (Translation: Simplicity gives food its best flavor).
Giorgio Pappalardo becomes a constant inspiration to many young people.
I had the privilege and great pleasure to interview Giorgio on a Wednesday afternoon earlier this month. It was overcast outside but I felt lightened and inspired after a nice chat with this humble, humorous yet hardheaded Italian chef and restaurateur.
Giorgio didn’t do well academically when he was young, “I liked everything but study” he said. However, he did discover his passion for food as he grew up. Noticing Giorgio’s talent and enthusiasm in cooking, Giorgio’s mom spurred him on to enter a culinary school, and that alone has forever changed his life. “I passed the (entrance) test, and I still don’t know how,” said Giorgio, chuckling.
Following graduation and service in the army, Giorgio got another life-changing opportunity to work for Alain Ducasse, one of the precious few Michelin-starred chefs and Giorgio’s role model and source of ideas, for four years. In hindsight, Giorgio realizes that the stint he did working with Alain Ducasse has turned out to be a turning point in his career as he has since lifted himself to a new level of sophistication in cooking.
Giorgio shows a photo of himself as an apprentice. He tells the story behind the very photo and explains how important this photo has meant to him.
While under Alain Ducasse’s wing, Giorgio soon found out that he was like a fish swimming happily in the sea of the culinary world. After leaving Alain Ducasse, he was offered a series of opportunities to work worldwide. “Being a chef is a good way to travel around the world. I keep on going down this path as a motivation and a reward because I also love to travel.” He first came to Taiwan to attend a friend’s wedding. Years later, Giorgio met his current business partner in Shanghai and made the decision to move over and open his very first restaurant in Taiwan. “I wanted to raise my kids in a more open space,” added the devoted family man perspicaciously.
The loving family man is talking to his baby girl over the phone. “Papa will be coming home soon…”
Giorgio thinks it’s imperative, and always a pleasure, to make his customers happy. He invariably derives great joy from seeing customers enjoy their food and come back again and again to eat at his restaurants. “That’s the best part of my job,” he assured me. “But I don’t have enough of free time. When everybody’s having a holiday like Xmas or New Year, you have to work; when everybody’s working, you don’t work. You live in another world.” Worse still, as a lad Giorgio often needed to work full time, so he was losing friends, which, he lamented, was the worst part of being a chef. To his great relief, Giorgio has made up for the grave loss over the years one friend at a time.
Now a successful chef, Giorgio sticks to his paramount principle when it comes to cooking: “Keep it simple.” “And I want customers to know what they’re eating.” To achieve this goal, he unfailingly opts for the simplest ingredients and then really goes out of his way to bring out the fresh flavor and genuine taste of every ingredient he has chosen for the day, all made possible by ‘keeping it simple.’ You can find such keen spirit in all of his recipes.
Giorgio and his lieutenant Matteo Boschiavo at Osteria by Angie.
Giorgio revealed that he never hesitates to take his cue for new ideas from his customers, saying that staying current with the trend and what people like is hugely important. He also draws inspirations from years of working with other leading chefs as well as from the recipes he wrote as far back as ten years ago. When asked what cooking has taught him, out of his mouth came the word “humble” effortlessly. “You’ll burn your fingers if you’re arrogant,” he laughed out loud. “I’ve also learned that we have to respect others and value the importance of teamwork.”
As a recognized top chef, Giorgio does have some good working advice for young chefs and chef wannabes. He points out that it is definitely not a must for aspiring cooks to go to a culinary school for the sole purpose of getting a diploma. Instead, work experience in a real, serious kitchen is far more important in his opinion. “Many people have a great C.V., but they lack cooking skills, therefore they don’t know how to cook or how to serve. They came to me with a big head and stayed for a week then left.” Whether or not you’re going places in this business “all depends on how much passion and love you put into your job,” Giorgio concludes. You also need to be patient. You need to wait patiently until your investment of time, money, blood, sweat and tears pays off. “Remember, be passionate and be patient does the job.”
Giorgio labels himself as an ambassador for Italy as he hopes people will get to taste the really good flavor of Italian food thanks to his purposeful efforts. “Osteria by Angie is getting certified as a world-class Italian restaurant and that’s very exciting,” a proud Giorgio told me. Giorgio is also cooperating with institutes such as IFSE to educate people who are passionate about cooking and to eventually fly them to Italy to advance their culinary learning.
Following the great success of Osteria by Angie, The Warehouse, Skills and a recipe book, Giorgio is planning to open stylish pizzerias to cater to youngsters with wine bars a likely possibility as well. How exciting! Surely Giorgio is going to make a roaring success again in his new endeavors as he is always looking for areas where corrections and improvement can be made. Besides, his being humble, guileless and open-minded will continue to help his cause immensely. Such are the inviting traits I spotted in this down-to-earth, good-natured chef. Indeed, they are what have made Giorgio a successful chef he is today. I can’t wait to see Giorgio fulfill his culinary dreams and expand his food empire sooner rather than later. He merits praise and continued attention.
“Enjoy cooking! Always!”
Live: The most important message of all from Chef Giorgio. The normally spontaneous restaurateur turns bigboyish the instant the camera is on. But his fun-loving nature hasn’t changed a bit. See for yourself.
1. It was pure delight chatting with Giorgio. His earnest and fun personality makes everybody around him feel instantly at home.
2. Osteria by Angie is highly recommended for all who wish to have a tasty bite of genuine Italian food. Its posh interior decoration and soothing ambience promises a great place to dine in.
3. Be you a chef or a budding cook, the cooking school Skills is bound to be a great teaching kitchen where you can improve on your techniques and your approach to cooking.
4. The article will be translated into Chinese. So stay tuned! (為了讓更多人認識這位風趣、親切、廚藝高超的大廚Giorgio，本篇文章將被譯成中文登出喔!)
5. An equally interesting article about cooking school Skills and natural wine importing company The Warehouse is to follow soon. Skills’s manager and teacher Alessandra Pepe along with Giorgio will give a smashing introduction speech!
A sneak peek:
Here are some of the photos that will appear in the next write-up on Skills and The Warehouse:
Giorgio and Alessandra in the connoisseur wine cellar of The Warehouse
Only the best of the best can be found at The Warehouse.
The top-notch professional teaching kitchen of Skills.