21 years old
Works as pasta-chef at Jamie’s Italian London Bridge
What did you study to become a chef?
I did a cookery course in Italy, but I started working when I was 15.
Did you work as chef in Italy?
Yes, I worked in little restaurants in Lodi, a small town near Milan, where I come from.
How did you get your job?
I came to London nearly 2 years ago and, because my English was very basic back then, I did what a lot of young Italians do- I went and worked in an Italian restaurant. I was very badly paid and had no contract. When my English improved a little, I went to work at the Hard Rock Cafè for few months and then applied to Jamie Oliver, who was about to open a new venue at London Bridge. There were 5000 applications and 114 were chosen for my position. I’m proud to say I made it.
What is your daily routine?
The restaurant I work in, Jamie’s Italian, is open 24/7. Of course we work in shifts. I wake up at 6.30, at 8 o’clock I’m at the restaurant and I start preparing. The kitchen opens at 11.30 and from then till 2.30pm it’s really really busy. On some days we can have as many as 800 people passing through. That means we work under a lot of pressure. When it calms down I start calling suppliers and make shopping lists. I leave at around 5pm and I’m free, unless I have a night shift.
How many people work with you?
The restaurant is big and there are 40-45 chefs. I’m head of pasta and the first courses and I have a team of six/seven people to manage. Something I could never have dreamt of in Italy at my age.
What is the starting salary for a chef?
With a small experience you can start at £1000-£1200 per month. Then the pay rises to £2000 and when a chef is more established the salary goes from £24,000 per year upwards.
What are the advantages of your job?
When you cook something good and your customer approaches you to compliment you, well, that’s a great satisfaction. Cooking is creativity as far as I’m concerned.
What are the downsides?
It’s a very stressful job, but I love it and I could not imagine doing anything else. When I go home I cook for myself and my girlfriend to relax!
Who do you admire more?
Jamie Oliver. Since I was a little kid I have admired him. He’s completely food-obsessed and his apparently strange ideas become the most amazing recipes. Among the Italian chefs, I really admire Nadia Santini from Il Pescatore, a 3 Michelin stars restaurant in Canneto sull’Oglio.
Your signature dish?
Pasta with mussels and asparagus.
Who would you like to cook for?
Well, it would be amazing to cook for the Queen of England.