Gregory Barbiero, Biochemist with a passion for Italian cuisine

The American Gregory Barbiero, a biochemist with a passion for Italian cuisine, attended the ICA course in 2010 and undertook a two-month internship at the restaurant "Arco Antico" in Savona under the guidance of chef Flavio Costa.

Gregory now works at the Michelin-starred restaurant "Saul" in Brooklyn (NY), and explains to us what the biggest challenges that a chef must face every day are.

'I've always been fascinated by cooking, because it’s art, science and creativity rolled into one. Food inspires people and makes them happy, for this reason I've always longed to become a chef. Among the major challenges a cook has to deal with every day is certainly the stress, along with the long hours of work, but the biggest challenge in this job is that of not falling into banality, keeping the level of creativity constantly high, to avoid being one of the crowd but to build and maintain a well-defined identity.'

How do you try to get the better of these challenges?

'As regards stress, the solution is simple; knowing how to find time for yourself, to relax and be sure that you’ve recharged your batteries before returning to work. As for the search for ideas and new stimuli in the kitchen I read, I read constantly, to learn new cooking techniques, trying to better myself at every moment. In cooking we must never lose the desire to learn.'

Tell us about your experience at ALMA.

‘What made my experience at ALMA exceptional was the chance to get to know and come into contact with the cuisine of the greatest chefs in Italy. Each week, a different chef came to give us a lesson, delving into the cuisine of a specific region; I don't think I could have had this opportunity in any other school. Even the educational trips played a fundamental role, because only by visiting production sites can you really appreciate the real quality of Italian products and raw materials – unparalleled. Finally I've just got to mention the ternship with Chef Flavio Costa from whom I learned so much. If today I'm part of the world of fine dining in New York it's because I have a school like ALMA behind me, which gave me a profound knowledge of cooking and drilled into me the hard work and dedication of this profession.'

In what way do you try to present Italian cuisine to your customers?

'Our customers frequently struggle to understand Italian cuisine, because it varies so much from region to region and for an American it's hard to grasp that much variety. What I try to do myself, however, is precisely this: to describe the many facets of Italian regional cuisine through my dishes, and I must say that customers always remain pleasantly surprised.'

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