International Day of Italian Cuisines

Sergio Bitici: “I am quality-oriented and that attracts fans and eventually the press”

Interview by Anthony Scillia

Q: Who are some of your Italian culinary inspirations?

A: My culinary inspiration is my former chef, the late Vittorio Guarini. In 1975, Guarini and I opened Toscana, the first Italian restaurant to receive 3 stars from the New York Times.

Q: What drew you to Italian cuisine in the first place?

A: I lived in Italy as a young man and started my career working in restaurants there. Italian cuisine is all I knew and is still the cuisine I love most.

Q: Is there one traditional dish of Italian cuisine that was most "inspiring" for you and why?

A: As a professional it is impossible for me to single out a particular dish in Italian cuisine. It depends on who is cooking the dish and how it is prepared. But generally, I like to cook and enjoy eating what is available seasonally.

Q: What is your concept of authenticity in terms of Italian cuisine and how important is it for the marketing of your restaurant?

A: I am strictly hands-on in a business. Authenticity begins with a high quality of food and service. I always seek out the best vendors to supply our kitchen with the finest ingredients. It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my day to sample wonderful products. I am quality-oriented and that attracts fans and eventually the press.

Q: How do you see the future of Italian cuisine outside of Italy?

A: I see a very bright future for Italian cuisine outside of Italy. Many American cooks are trained in Italy and when they return to the US they mix Italian cuisine and classical cooking methods with local American products to perfection. The premise of Italian cooking is timeless and suits all taste buds - dishes focused on few but fine ingredients prepared in an uncomplicated way.

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