Cinzia Tomassi is chef de cuisine and hampton at the Hilton in Rome. The Eternal City! A fascinating story.

 

You currently work as Chef de Cuisine and Hampton at the Hilton in Rome, Italy. Tell us about how you got started as a chef. Why did you decide on cooking professionally?

I’ve been working in the restaurant business for 25 years. I started as a Commis to pay for my studies and then over the years my natural inclination towards taste for aesthetics and professional management of the kitchen and the entire catering department in all levels has led me to be very sought after in Rome.

 

How did you start out on this road to cooking? What spurred you into becoming a chef?

The passion for cooking and stubbornness to become increasingly prepared in every field of cooking and management of the department.

 

Which culinary school did you attend?

I did not attend a specific school for cooking but a classical high school and in the meantime self-taught and being very curious, I learned from grandmothers.

 

What will you never forget about your first year as a chef?

The small errors of management, however, that did not increase my experience.

 

What is the best part of being a chef?

Being a chef and being an artist, a painter, a poet, a writer, a photographer, a dreamer, and a visionary who expresses their feelings in the dish.

 

What is the most difficult aspect to being a professional chef?

The long hours at work and more often than not, the holidays that are missed with the family. However, immense satisfaction always repays the sacrifices.

 

How are female chefs considered in Italy in the past and how does it differ to the current situation?

Today it seems that the female chef is earning more money and appreciation from their respective companies. Women are bringing qualities to the table that are more and more being realized, such as strength and perseverance, delegation and management qualities in the administration of large food and beverage departments.

 

 

Modern Italian cuisine, what does it mean for you?

I interpret traditional Italian cooking as Roman cuisine, observing tradition with a purist eye and not betraying it. For what concerns the Mediterranean and Italian cuisine you can make a change without upsetting the dish. Altering the quality and taste is indeed bringing a touch of modernity in taste and in to the dish.

 

How would you describe your own culinary style today?

Traditional, refined and with a rounded taste.

 

As Chef de Cuisine and Hampton by Hilton in Rome, Italy. Today, what is the culinary direction/ set up there?

Our customers are international so we have a traditional menu but with the addition of typical European and continental dishes that will please all palates.

 

How innovative can you be in this job?

I really love the respect of tradition and I hate the distortion of traditional dishes that, in my view are not innovation, but exasperation of common sense and taste. You can also be innovative going against the current and respecting cultural styles without limits in the culinary world, with unlikely pairings to feel innovative.

 

Can you share a signature dish with us?

Milk gnocchi with prawns cherry tomatoes with crustaceans and basil chlorophyll.

 

Can you share one of your last creations with us?

Risotto cacio e pepe con bottarga di uovo marinato.

 

Which unique cooking technique have you mastered?

Use of conventional cooking techniques but without exceeding the use of fires in order not to destroy the raw material.

 

 

In the past you worked as Executive Chef at a Agritourism. How was this experience for you?

For me, being the traditionalist, it was a very satisfying experience. Preparing dishes with Dell company products is a just wonderful!

 

You have been part of the TV program Hell’s kitchen 3 Italia. What was it about?

A competition between two teams with chef Carlo CRACCO.

 

What are the current developments or trends in Rome’s culinary world?

It seems that someone coming, for example, is re-evaluating the old culinary recipes … Which seemed lost!

 

What does work mean for you?

I work for myself and for passion and love.

 

What do you do if you want to treat yourself to something special to eat?

A good Mediterranean seafood dinner.

 

Any place in the world you would like to work as chef one day?

America… my dreams.

 

If you would have the time to write a cookbook, what would it be about?

Real Roman cuisine.

 

Lots of cooks are interested to work in Rome. Do you have any tips or recommendations for them?

I do not recommend many chefs work in Rome for many reasons. Ultimately, Italy is indeed a country in search of innovation but it will never change its food.

 

Thank you so much Cinzia.

 

How did you start your career as a chef?
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