Born in Gorizia but raised in Livorno, Paco Zanobini became familiar with cooking at a young age, thanks to the family restaurant where he spent time every day looking at what was going on in the kitchen and where he started working as a young man when he joined the kitchen brigade.

But at the age of 20, the desire to have new experiences and see the world led him to Madrid, where he began working at the prestigious Italian restaurant “Vecchia Milano.”

Back in Italy, he gained experience in various restaurants in northern Italy, which in addition to his skills as a chef developed his managerial ones: his numerous responsibilities included purchasing, staff training, and even consultancy services for the opening of restaurants. These experiences enriched his knowledge of regional cuisine, an area that fascinated him and led him to focus on lost traditional recipes, which in the past were deeply linked to our local areas but were later supplanted by contemporary cuisine.

After this variety of experiences, Paco returned to his hometown, Livorno, where he managed a trattoria before becoming in 2013 Sous Chef at the Michelin-starred “Antica Osteria del Teatro” in Piacenza, where he expanded and further honed his already strong organizational skills.

But, as the Italian saying goes, ‘whoever stops is lost’! So Paco left for India, where he spent 7 months overseeing and managing the opening of an Italian restaurant. An experience that proved invaluable for getting to know South Asian culture in depth, immersing himself in its cuisine and flavours and bringing home a wealth of knowledge about spices and much more. Indian cuisine, along with Japanese cuisine, remains to this day one of his favourite international ones.

Then back to Italy again: from April 2016 to July 2019 he became the Chef at “Locanda Mariella” in Fragnolo di Calestano, an iconic establishment in the Parma Apennines, famous for its wine cellar and for a cuisine focused on respecting and enhancing the raw materials and their seasonality. It was here that he met Elena Minari, who would become his colleague and, above all, his life and career partner. De Smart Kitchen was born in March 2021 from their partnership, with Paco as its production director, consultant chef and co-owner. Drawing on the experiences of both chefs, the company deals with catering consultancy, the production of preserves and the management of private events.

But their projects extend even further: since 2017, Paco has been organizing and managing culinary events, including abroad for Eataly Chicago, Gift Corp. Osaka and Kitakyūshū, and Parma Sole Hotel, Istanbul. Since 2013, he has been involved in professional training for local associations such as ISCOM and MyService Academy in Piacenza and has been conducting amateur cooking courses, collaborating with Eataly Piacenza in the presentation of thematic cooking lessons; since 2015, he has been providing consultancy services to the catering segment and to companies in the Ho.Re.Ca and agri-food sectors for the development and promotion of new products.

Today he is also an ALMA Ambassador: “Thanks to this role, I have the opportunity to bring to the world the most important form of conviviality: cooking. It’s what the foundations of the pillars of life – family and friendship – are based on. Sitting in a circle to eat together, whether at the table or on floor, is an experience shared in every corner of the earth. Italian cuisine is undoubtedly the most globally recognized one. Having the opportunity, thanks to ALMA, to bring it to the world is a great responsibility that it is my immense privilege to take on.”

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