Alessandro Cozzolino, from Campania in southwestern Italy, is Chef de Cuisine at the elegant and much-loved Italian restaurant Grissini at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. He has trained under some exceptional chefs, and now cooks traditional Italian dishes with a touch of something innovative in presentation and cooking technique.

We chat to him about his craft and the Hong Kong dining scene.

 

A Chef Portrait of Alessandro Cozzolino
by Victoria Burrows

 

Alessandro, you have honed your skills with a long list of top chefs, including Chef Trovato at Arnolfo Ristorante (to blog post) in Siena, Chef Corti at the Hotel Splendido in Portofino, and Chef Di Costanzo at Ristorante Il Mosaico in Ischia. Is there a particular characteristic or skill that all these chefs share that make them so excellent at their work?

Passion! It’s all about passion and dedication for cooking – that’s what all of them have in common. I felt in each of them so much love for the gastronomy world. Each of them has different skills but the energy that they create in their kitchen is unbelievable. They are, for me, the best example of gastronomic chefs.

 

What’s one thing you have experienced or learned in your years of being a chef that surprised you?

In the hospitality world, you never stop learning and every day is a surprise. From the seasonal ingredients to new cooking techniques, from the chefs that work in my team to the guests that visit us in Grand Hyatt Hong Kong – there’s something new every day. That’s what I love so much about my job.

 

 

What’s it like now cooking and living in Asia? 

Asia is an amazing continent, pretty different from Europe, but super interesting for my professional life. Working here is an exciting part of my life that allows me to push my limits and open my mind to something that is not in my background.

 

How do you find the Hong Kong dining scene?

Very, very interesting. Hong Kong is full of new trends, gastronomic concepts, from the comfort food to the most refined dining experience. You can have everything you could want as a meal.

 

What about Italian food in Hong Kong – is it as good as at home?

There are good Italian restaurants in town but, of course, you can find a lot of non-traditional Italian cuisine. I think that this is normal everywhere in the world. Here in Grissini we cook according to Italian flavours with the right twist in plating and cooking techniques.

 

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Grissini Dining Area

 

How easy is it to get specific Italian ingredients in Hong Kong? How do you source them?

It’s pretty easy, we have our personal contacts because I like to be in touch directly with the farmers and producers in Italy. But, of course, we need to thank our Hong Kong suppliers; with their assistance, the fresh produce can get straight from Italy to Hong Kong.

 

Has being in Asia changed the way you cook at all, for example using different ingredients, cooking styles or attitudes in the kitchen?

As I focus on providing authentic Italian cuisine, I’m proud that I don’t have to change my way of cooking or the ingredients I use. Of course, I always find inspiration from different places but I would stick with my philosophy of using the most traditional Italian way of cooking.

Speaking of attitude, I have learned a lot about Hong Kong culture and it has broadened my horizons. It also helped me adapt to the city easier.

 

Thank you, Chef Alessandro, and all the best with your cooking at Grissini.

 

Also take a look at this delicious recipe of Chef Alessandro:

Full recipe ➔ Homemade potato gnocchi | Mediterranean seafood | Pecorino cheese | black pepper

Recipe by Chef Alessandro Cozzolino