INTERVIEW WITH EXECUTIVE CHEF MASSIMILIANO CONVERTINI
A Chef James, FoodReference.com interview with Executive Chef Massimiliano Convertini of Bottega Del Vino, New York City. October, 2006
CHEF JAMES: Why did you decide to pursue a career with food? Can you tell us where your interest in the field began and a little bit about how your career has unfolded?
CHEF CONVERTINI: My Parent’s owned a restaurant in Italy and I started working there when I was a young boy; first on the floor and then at the bar and then finally in the kitchen. I loved it very much and knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of in my career. My parent’s have since sold the business but my entire family has always been involved in the restaurant business.
CHEF JAMES: Who have been the biggest inspirations throughout your career?
CHEF CONVERTINI: Every place that I have ever worked has provided inspiration and lessons. You learn both good and bad things no matter where you are working so everywhere you go there is inspiration to improve and experience new things. I like to work where the owner is always there, like he or she is the host of the party. Eating at a restaurant is like eating at someone else’s house so it is important that the host and staff make the people feel welcome so that the experience may be enjoyable and memorable.
CHEF JAMES: Which would you find more stressful or enjoyable, cooking for other chefs you don’t know, or cooking for family and friends?
CHEF CONVERTINI: I honestly enjoy cooking for everyone! I love to share my passion and experience with others.
CHEF JAMES: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the culinary industry today?
CHEF CONVERTINI: I don’t know that it’s a challenge, but it’s important that you believe in the people who work in the restaurant. There is always something going on in the kitchen and it is important to believe in the people with whom you work and the place to which you are giving all your energy. I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant, that everything starts there. The service is extremely important, as well.
CHEF JAMES: What advice would you give to someone in high school who would like to pursue a culinary career?
CHEF CONVERTINI: I would say that it is important to remember that every experience is a good opportunity to learn new things. Every restaurant offers something different with different people to learn from and different customers to create for and form relationships with. Remember that every place is a place to learn.