A young inspiring mature man. A dreamer, like us all. A humble winner, a talented Michelin Star Chef. Let me present you: FRANCESCO SODANO.
Francesco is the Exec Chef at “Il faro di Capo d’Orso” - an enchanting Restaurant located on the Amalfi Coast, Naples.
Francesco travelled the world, worked for the best dining tables in Europe and London. He worked relentlessly to achieve his dream: a Michelin Star of his own.
A dream that now we can say, came true.
When I think of you Francesco, I remember the long chats about your plans, your ambitions & desire of becoming a Michelin Star Chef. Well, your dream came true! How did you feel when you first knew you received your Michelin Star?
It's a dream came true essentially, I dreamt it since I was a child. My goal was to achieve a Michelin star at 30 years old... and I received it right one month after I turned thirty, so I was incredibly happy! My birthday was on the 27th of September and I received the news on the 7th November 2019.
I don't see it however as an arrival but rather a starting point. We have a responsibility now and we want to improve even more. We want to grow professionally and organically with the team and in conjunction with new projects.
Who is your mentor / who has been your inspiration during these years?
Undoubtably one the people I always looked up to and I consider a mentor is Anthony Genovese (2 Michelin Star Chef from il Pagliaccio in Rome). He told me how to translate my own personality and being, in my dishes, to make it my own particular and distinctive style. He educated me on how not to follow others or the industry’s trends, not to be the typical Italian chef but rather be myself and to bring it into the dining experience in my Restaurant. My culinary style is different, and it's based on feelings, emotions, memories, experiences brought from my traveling. I owe him the ability to do so.
What drives you towards creativity and perfection?
I am not quite sure actually. Sometimes I have a "stroke of genius" suddenly coming to me. My inspiration is unexpected, independent and quiet crazy. I will try to explain it to you.
For example, I grew up surrounded and working with old school chefs, all incredibly attached to a specific grooming style: clean shaven, hair in order etc. Now a days, the “chef look” has (most certainly) turned upside down: tattoo, long beard, piercing and so on and so forth. Essentially, I grew up with the habit (and the imposed rule) of shaving every day. So, like that one day I thought: “would it be nice if someone else would shave me?” So I created the “Shaved Chef” a chocolate and mint dessert.
It’s a petite four dish, with my face engraved on it (on the chocolate). On the side I serve a place with on it what look like shaving foam (sweet cream) and a tool looking like a raiser. Although I never ate the shaving foam, I knew it was of a menthol, eucalyptus taste/smell, so was the cream consequentially. The guest essentially was call upon shaving me at the end of their meal.
I do put "my face on my dishes" … literally.
What is your favourite dish and why?
I don't think I have a favourite plate as such, I am certainly attached emotionally to a few, one of which I serve currently in my restaurant.
It is a linguine with carrots and Garum. Garum is a sauce, a fish sauce similar to the Thai one but inspired to the Romans method. They would cook the interiors of the fish, letting it ferment for hours. This would result in a very acidic, fishy kind of taste. For this reason I have broken that punchy flavour adding the sweetness of the carrot pure. Indeed an unthinkable combination for a pasta sauce but it works really well. It's kind of an Umami flavour. I enjoy very much seeing the guests’ excitement whilst eating it.
What is your message to all chefs out there looking to reach their goals?
I don't feel like I have "arrived". It has been hard to persevere in the ups and down, but I kept ongoing doing my best not to be or feel demoralised.
It is hard, it has been, I won't deny it. You have to keep on trying, keep on going all the time even (and most importantly) when the outcomes are not exactly what you were expecting.
That is exactly what will make a difference, the stubbornness, the willingness to make it, to insist. The courage to be stronger that the events. I don't allow myself to get emotional over the circumstances but rather be proactive, try to be myself and create something new. In fact this year lots of things happened, not only the star but several others award that we received and that full field our hearts. We won the Gambero Rosso (comparable to AA), an award for the best Bread in Italy, three hats of espresso. We have been mentioned on guides like "The Reppublica” and "Identita’ Golose" in Italy for the maximum level of innovation.
It has been incredible after such a hard season to win so many wonderful prizes. It has been wonderful indeed... and this is just the beginning.
My motto is: be afraid and make yourself better.
I don't mean of curse to suggest panicking at all time, but rather not to be compliant, be competitive and try to be the best version of yourself, ALWAYS.
Erika Visentin Bonomo - Permanent Division Manager