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RAMW Member Spotlight: Matteo Venini

March 17, 2016

Matteo Venini was born in Mandello del Lario, Italy in the northern region of Lombardy. He comes from a long line of butchers, and started working in the family's butcher shop at a very young age. Matteo went on to study at the Academy of Castalimenti and Etolie and La Cucina Italiana in Milan, where he refined his cooking and food presentation techniques. Adventure then took hold of Matteo and he moved to the United States where he joined the culinary team at Ristorante Tosca. At Tosca, Matteo was able to work his way through almost every station in the kitchen, learning and imposing his style of Northern Italian cooking. He is now the Executive Chef at Tosca!


What is the hardest part about being a chef?

It can be difficult to stay top of everything that’s happening in the kitchen - and even around you on a daily basis, because you spend so much of your time at the restaurant.

There are so many new foods, restaurants, etc. - I wish I could go and try it all.

…and the most rewarding part?

For sure, seeing people smiling when they are eating your food


Where do you look for inspiration when putting your menu together?

Inspiration comes when it comes, so you need to always be ready to catch it. It can be hidden anywhere.


How is your menu influenced by the neighborhood it is located in?

Tosca is an Italian restaurant so the neighborhood doesn’t have an impact on our menu. We do like to keep it refined and modern for our guest. We are lucky to be in an area with so many great people, we love seeing them for lunch and dinner.


How did you get started in the business? What was your first job in the industry and what did you learn from it?

My family used to have a butcher shop back in Italy, so I started working with my dad when I was 9 years old; and I started cooking with my mom when I was 15. After spending one year in the army, I decided to start cooking professionally.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

Wow, that’s a very hard question. I know what I will do tomorrow but not 5 years from now- lol!  


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Stay away from the kitchen… that didn’t work.


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

To be honest, I don't know.  I studied architecture for 3 years in Italy…


What song always makes you happy?

When I drive I usually listen to Skrillex, it gives me energy and focus for the day.


What’s your favorite local spot?

It depends of what I’m in the mood for. Ramen for sure Daykaya. Sushi taro for sushi, always. For drinks, my friend Luca makes the best Negroni ever at Fiola Mare.


What is your favorite ingredient?

I am a meat guy, if you couldn’t tell from my tattoos.


You’re hosting a dream dinner party.  What three people would be at your table?

Chef Enrico Crippa from Piazza Duomo Alba (3 Michelin star & the best experience I’ve ever had). Second, I will say one of my best friends, Atta, just because I know that without him it won’t be a party,  and, of course, Beyoncé.


It’s the last meal of your life  - what’s on your plate?

Pizza - Neapolitan style.


What are your pet peeves?

Whistling. Missing labels or lids on containers in the kitchen.


What is your favorite way to give back to the community?

There are so many great organizations in this city- it’s hard to pick just one. I love giving back and participating in as many events that go towards a great cause.


What’s your favorite go-to junk food?

Chips for sure, with kimchi on the side to make it a little healthier.