Eccentric, creative and passionate are the best words to describe chef Cristiano Tomei and his cuisine. Cristiano Tomei is an Italian chef, who has developed his cooking ability in his travels, tasting the flavors of the world and working in the culinary area to create his project. Today, he’s famous for his creativity and energy projected in his dishes, which is why he was a winner of a Michelin Star with his restaurant L’Imbuto.

 

I know your first occupation was Naval Technician. How was the change to nautical life with the kitchen?

“I’m an official aspiring graduate on board of ships, but I never did this job, except on the military service or some small occasions.”

 

Where are you trained as a cook?

“I was trained in the family, between peasant grandparents and sea people. I studied a lot on my own, but especially I ate in many restaurants in the world. I began to cook in Viareggio’s bathing establishments to open my restaurant.”

 

 

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

“Eh… I’ll never forget the first service in my restaurant! The stomach pain mixed with emotion, fear, unconsciousness and especially the sounds of customers’ voices in the room.”

 

How would you describe your cooking style and the philosophy behind it?

“Mine, whose else! A cook must be himself. To meet someone you need to be able to taste what you cook. In the end, we are what we eat, and above all, what we cook.”

 

How does your management experience in a restaurant?

“It begins with youth unconsciousness, born by chance as the most beautiful things, dictated by enthusiasm, the result of a non-canonical path, which nevertheless began very early.”

“Already as a child, I was passionate about cooking, when in my time eating out was not yet a social status. The beginning was beautiful but, very hard and perhaps it hasn’t yet completely round out.”

Now we have to talk about L’Imbuto, your fantastic creation located in the lemons’ garden of Palazzo Pfanner in Lucca, Italy. Where was filmed the Italian movie “Il Marchese del Grillo”.

 

How has the evolution of L’Imbuto been since its creation?

“The evolution of the restaurant has been as of humans evolution. We start without having a specific objective and pattern, and then we realize it, then you start making decisions right or wrong. L’Imbuto is a restaurant with very strong characteristics. The choice of Palazzo Pfanner allows us to work in a unique place of its kind. Just think of the Italian garden in the center of the city.”

 

L’Imbuto is a very particular restaurant. What things we can find different from others?

“With us, there aren’t real ranks. We managed to create a kind of alchemy between the kitchen and the room, which isn’t the case in all restaurants. This harmony allows us to work in the best possible way, and especially, solve the problems together.”

 

 

The topic of local food, from smaller, specialized and personally known producers, is becoming more important. What are some of your local partners from whom you source? Which products do you use from this local partner?

“Le Pinete, the woods, the public domain, Viareggio’s fishermen, Pantano Carni and the Ortofrutta Lucca Centro, are my local partners.”

“I use all those ingredients that are needed for the realization of my dishes, and that vary mainly according to seasonality.”

 

In 2014 L’Imbuto won a Michelin Star. What are the characteristics that let it win this important gastronomic award?

“We don’t know! We work every day for our customers intending to make each of their experiences unique.” 

 

Besides being a great chef, you are a television personality. What are your next plans for television?

“Many, but I can’t tell you.”

 

To finish this interview. What message do you give for the new chefs?

“Don’t forget that the chef has to stay in the kitchen and cook.”

 

Thank you very much, Cristiano Tomei!

 

By Yareli Parra