Chef Stefano Zaninelli, who hails from a small town outside Milan and who worked in Europe and the Middle East before coming to Thailand eleven years ago, Stefano was head chef at Via Vai for two years and Italian chef at Loop restaurant in the Pathumwan Princess Hotel, where he prepared traditional and rustic cuisine using old-fashioned recipes presented in a modern style.
At Don Giovanni, says Stefano, he will be using fresh produce to create a distinctive and modern style of Italian cooking. Not, of course, to forget the Italian desserts! Every Italian chef has his own tiramisu recipe, and Chef Stefano’s is going to become a real favourite.
Why cooking as a career?
As a kid I traveled a lot because of my father’s business and we stayed in very nice hotels. I did not care much to stay around the pool but always asked to visit the kitchen and meet the chefs, so I become one of them!
Two biggest influences on your career?
First is my mama and grand mom who taught me the basics of cooking, then I started working as an apprentice with Miss Francesca Pacini, a chef from Elba island in Tuscany. She was the light in my future career and taught me all about seafood and fresh pastas.
Best early kitchen experience?
When I worked for Chef Zaretti, the very old school but fantastic trainer who was influenced by Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, one of the top chefs in Italy.
Describe in three words what it’s like to cook for a cruise ship carrying 8,000 passengers.
Hard, stressful (but) satisfying
Worst kitchen experience?
On the cruise ship during stormy weather. Food fell out of the oven, so everything had to be cooked again.
Best meal you’ve ever had?
I love veggie and mushrooms. You can imagine the taste of risotto with fresh porcini mushroom in a small but nice restaurant near Milano.
What’s your cooking philosophy?
Best quality ingredients and transform them to a delicious dish.
What’s your signature dish?
I love doing fresh pastas and risottos.
The Pellaprat old cooking book
Most difficult ingredient to cook with?
All the interior organs of the animals because I don’t like their smell.
What’s tastier - Italian rice or Thai rice?
They are completely different. Thai rice is more perfumed, small and long, whereas Italian is smaller and fatter, so we do not wash it because its starch helps to create its creaminess, especially when making ‘Mantecazione’ after the cheese and butter is added.
How do you keep in touch with latest food trends?
Dining in hotel restaurants and watching culinary shows on TV.
Have you ever created an entirely new dish?
Yes – ‘Blue cheese from goat risotto with braised red wine pear and rosemary.’
Greatest achievement to date?
To be a chef in a five-star hotel in a big city like Bangkok. Having come from a village near Milano is a plus.
Famous people you’ve cooked for.
The Dutch royal family, former King of Spain, Queen of Jordan, Thai Princess, politicians…..
Who would you like to cook for?
It would be nice to cook for the Pope.
Utensils you can’t do without?
My pasta machine is like my second wife!
Most influential chef?
I really like Jamie Oliver.
Music you listen to while cooking?
At home MTV channel, but at work classical Italian Pavarotti, Bocelli etc.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
To take time to answer question, don’t be rushed!
What’s your favorite dish to cook for yourself?
Favorite dish cooked by someone else?
From my partner Khun Oil. Thai food is delicious.
Which restaurant above all others would you like to work for?
I would like to open my own little space with no bosses!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
A pilot was my second vocation.
Don Giovanni Italian Restaurant Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, 1695 Phaholyothin Road,
Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand T: +66 (0) 2541 1234 | F: +66 (0) 2541 1087