Star Chef Interview: Anthony Genovese of Il Pagliaccio, Rome
With two Michelin stars to his name, Anthony Genovese talks to Chef’s Pencil about his journey as a top Chef and his next projects.
Anthony is the Head Chef and Owner of Il Pagliaccio, one of Rome’s best restaurants. The experts behind the Michelin Guide regard Il Pagliaccio to serve some of the most original and sophisticated dishes in Rome.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I have always wanted to be a chef, but it is my travels that keep me inspired. Ever since the beginning of my career I traveled around Europe and Asia. It is these travels that allowed me to discover another side of myself and form the base of my style of cuisine.
Where did you train to cook? Do you recommend a formal training for someone who wants to become a Chef (i.e. culinary school)?
I studied in France at Ecole Hoteliére de Nice. Of course, formal training is important, but nothing compares to the real experiences you gain from working in the kitchen.
What sets apart a Michelin-star chef from the pack?
There is nothing that distinguishes a Michelin-starred chef from a non-Michelin starred chef. Each chef has their own philosophy and ways of seeing their own kitchen, which is expressed by creative flair and paying attention to detail, flavors and the chef’s own story.
What is one common mistake you see other chefs or cooks making in the kitchen?
A common mistake, in my opinion, is when chefs break away from their own unique culinary style in order to follow current trends and the culinary fashions of the moment. I think it is important for chefs to embrace their own style and keep their identity as a chef.
What is your signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
Smoked amberjack roulade with burrata emulsion and citrus. It’s a signature dish at Il Pagliaccio that I have evolved over the years.
Tell us a bit about Il Pagliaccio. How did you grow the business and how you stay relevant in a very competitive restaurant industry?
I like to consider Il Pagliaccio as a circus of flavors and emotions, and a stage to portray new identities and thoughts; a bit like a game, to test ingredients and flavors from cultures far away from me, revisited from the perspective of the Roman landscape that surrounds me.
Where do you source your produce and ingredients for your restaurants?
All the ingredients that we use at Il Pagliaccio come from local farmers and businesses that have worked with us from the beginning. It is really important for me to form a good relationship with suppliers.
Many chefs struggle with a healthy work and life balance? What is your take on this?
It is important for chefs to try to separate work and private life, which is what I try to do as much as possible. It is really easy for chefs to slip into a routine where there is a lot of crossover.
What are your favorite cookbooks?
Anyone who has been to Il Pagliaccio will know at the entrance, I have what I call my ‘library’. I have books ranging from El Celler de Can Roca, to Pierre Gagnaire to Alain Ducasse. I do not have a favorite book as such, instead, I am drawn to each one depending on what inspires me at that moment.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a chef?
Becoming a chef is not easy. It requires sacrifice, motivation and passion. It requires a smile of satisfaction at the end of a long working day, in order to transmit the emotion to the staff and the customers. If a person is ready for this, then they can think of becoming a chef.