Chef Marco Guccio
Drawing on his family roots in Southern Italy and his Milan upbringing, Chef Marco Guccio whips up modern and hearty Italian dishes at renowned Italian restaurant Zafferano that celebrate both tradition and innovation
Who was the biggest influence in your decision to become a chef? When growing up, the biggest influences were my family especially my mother and grandmother who showed me the beauty of being in the kitchen and cooking with the heart and soul.
At what age did you start cooking, and who first taught you how to cook? I started cooking at the age of 15. It was my mother who first taught me how to cook. Although I liked the idea of cooking back then, her sole purpose of teaching me was to cook for my older brother so that she didn’t have to.
How would you describe your culinary style? Drawing from my family roots in Southern Italy and my upbringing in Milan, I have been influenced by the many ingredients from both Northern and Southern Italy. Over the years, I have developed my culinary style that celebrates both tradition and innovation through incorporating classic techniques and most importantly respecting the ingredients.
Having worked for a handful of prestigious kitchens alongside several renowned chefs, which role would you say gave you the greatest job satisfaction? While working for Francesco Mazzei as a ‘Commis’ and then a ‘Demi Chef,’ – I remember making so many mistakes back then, which really allowed me to hone and perfect my cooking techniques. The day Chef Mazzei trusted me to cook his dish; I knew I had accomplished something.
Who do you consider your mentors? Francesco Mazzei, Marco Magri and Alberico Penati.
Where do you get inspiration when you have to come up with new dishes? I usually curate my new dishes around the best season’s harvest, so that I can work with the freshest ingredients when they are full of flavours.
What would you consider to be your signature dish? My signature dishes often change as my menu refreshes seasonally. Majority of my signature dishes are created around seafood. I would say that the ‘poached and pan-seared Sardinian octopus served with roasted vegetables and ‘salmoriglio’ dressing’ is my current signature dish.
Could you share with us your thoughts on upcoming food trends? I think many chefs will start focusing on the aesthetics of their dishes. You would see more and more chefs creating dainty dishes with immaculate presentation using edible flowers and dry ice. Personally, although I strongly believe that presentation is very important, my emphasis is always on the flavour of my dishes. Simply because many Italian dishes are meant to be rustic and flavourful, just like how my ‘mamma’ taught me.
How is the F&B scene expected to progress in the next 5 to 10 years? The F&B scene is expected to become much more competitive, as there will likely be more unique as well as modern and trendy fittings popping up in the next 5 to 10 years to cater to diners evolving taste buds.
What are some of the must-try dishes at Zafferano? There are many, such as the poached and pan-seared Sardinian octopus served with roasted vegetables ‘salmoriglio’dressing, the hand-crafted ‘agnolotti’ filled with 12-hour marinated ox-tail, served with celeriac purée and Sicilian ‘Bronte’ pistachios, and the 150 days grain fed Black Angus beef tenderloin served with sautéed seasonal mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke purée, chestnuts, and veal reduction.