MEET THE CHEF
Have you always wanted to ask your favorite chef what they love to eat when they’re at home? Or perhaps what they think the next big food or dining trend will be? Look no further than this exclusive series of chef interviews by JustLuxe. So read on, as we bring you these answers and more — direct from the culinary masters themselves. Some of the most famous names in the industry, including legendary Michelin-starred chefs, have divulged exciting insider information and personal stories of their journey to the top just for our readers.
Restaurant: Tony's Pizza, Pizza Rock, Tony's Coal Fired Pizza
Location: San Francisco, Sacramento,
Type of Cuisine: Italian
Accolades: 2 Time World Champion Pizza Maker World Pizza Cup Naples, Italy, Top 10 Pizza Destinations in US Travel Channel, 1st Place Pizza Champions Challenge Food Network 2006
JustLuxe: At what point in your life did you decide to become a chef? What influenced you to do so?
Tony: Since I was a little boy. I have always had a passion for the pizza industry, but I really realized my calling right after high school. My brother owned the infamous Pyzano’s Pizzeria in Castro Valley. I took on the task of a pizza thrower and began entertaining the restaurant crowds. A few years later, I was still throwing pizzas but I also became a partner at the pizzeria. I would credit my entire family for influencing me to become a chef.
JustLuxe: If you could give a word of advice to an aspiring chef, what would you say?
Tony: You have to love what you do. You need to treat it like a relationship - some days are good, some days are bad. You just have to understand that cooking will always be there if you love it. You have to be passionate. I always try to make things better each and every day. When you think you’re the best, that’s when you lose. It can always be better.
JustLuxe: Where do you get inspiration for the design of your dishes and plating?
Tony: I always wanted to be an artist growing up. I always wanted to draw and be creative, but I wasn’t great translating that onto paper. That artistic side of what I wanted to do on paper translates to what I want to do on a plate.
JustLuxe: What do you predict as the next big trend in cooking and/or the restaurant industry?
Tony: Coal-fire style and Detroit-style pizzas are going to be the next big thing and become more popular all over the country.
JustLuxe: Which season do you look forward to the most for its ingredients?
Tony: I love summer. I really enjoy going to the farmer’s market in the summer.
JustLuxe: What places or cities in the world have influenced your cooking the most?
Tony: Naples, Italy and the U.S. for regional pizzas
JustLuxe: In your opinion, what innovation has recently influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way?
Tony: I can tell you what has influenced the industry in a negative way. I think the conveyor oven has ruined the pizza industry. It took pizzaiolos out of the craft and artistry.
JustLuxe: What would you say is the current climate of business in the restaurant industry?
Tony: For the most part, I think we’re out of the rut and moving forward. Each year, the restaurants are moving further on up.
JustLuxe: What is your favorite dish to prepare at home as opposed to the plate you enjoy preparing in the kitchen?
Tony: I love making spaghetti and meatballs. At the restaurant, I really love to make the fire-roasted copa fondue.
JustLuxe: Besides gastronomy, what other passions do you have?
Get more information at TonyGemignani.com
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