Since the relaunch of the blog in March, I’ve been working away on some exciting new features, and I’m very excited to show you my latest, The Chef’s Table! Each month I’ll be quizzing one of Glasgow’s favourite chefs, finding out what they love to cook at home and why they love being a chef!
For my first instalment, I spoke to head chef at Paesano Pizza, Nicola Gigante. Having recently opened their new West End location on Great Western Road, it’s a very exciting time for the Paesano team and their delicious wood fired pizzas. The long-awaited opening last month saw hundreds of diners descend on the new restaurant over the space of three days, and as expected, it was an instant hit!
I was excited to speak to Nicola, who is originally from Benevento in Italy, to ask him five questions about his life as a chef, as it takes a special touch to create those incredible pizzas!
Where did you learn to cook?
“I trained at the Italian institute IPSAR “Le Streghe” in Benevento, Italy” said Nicola. The Institute for Professional Services Hotel and Restaurant is accredited as a school of excellence and was created in order to train staff for the hotel, restaurant, and tourism sector, without being forced to turn to other provinces or regions across Italy.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Nicola has a large family, and has fond memories of home cooked meals. “I remember watching my mother cook for my family of seven all day, every day.” Seeing his mother cook regularly for a crowd inspired his passion for food. He fondly remembers his family “enjoying her food and the fruits of her labour on a daily basis.”
What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
“It has to be the Margherita con Fior di Latte,” said Nicola, “because the Margherita is the basis for comparison in all restaurants, so it’s important that ours is of a high standard.” Fior de latte translates as “milk’s flower” and is used to distinguish cow’s milk mozzarella from the buffalo milk version. Paesano Pizza get their Fior di Latte fresh from Teano in Campania, Italy.
What do you cook at home?
Sticking to his roots even outside of work, Nicola cooks a mostly Italian menu at home: “Italian food mostly. Definitely a lot of pasta, with fresh homemade sauces and ingredients.” The Paesano Pizza menu takes a lot of inspiration from this classic Italian way of cooking, taking pride in its use of fresh, homemade ingredients and sourcing its cheese, tomatoes, flour, and extra virgin olive oil from regions throughout Italy.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
“Being a chef allows me to share my culture with others,” Nicola said. After being raised and trained in Italy, the head chef holds his home country close to his heart, and enjoys using his heritage as inspiration when cooking. “As a chef, I have the ability to show my passion through the food I put out, and that’s really important to me.”
For more information on the incredible Paesano Pizza, check out their website here. I hope you enjoyed the new feature, and if you can think of any questions you’d like me to ask Glasgow’s top chefs, let me know! Keep an eye out for who’s at the Chef’s Table next month…