Foodservice > Chef's Table
Chef Dante Boccuzzi of New York’s famed Aureole Restaurant has come a long way from his very first restaurant job at a pizzeria in Cleveland when he was just fourteen. The excitement and adrenalin charge of working in the pizza kitchen influenced his decision to attend the Culinary Institute of America right after high school. From there, his talent landed him an entry-level job at Aureole, working under Chef Charlie Palmer for two years. It was Palmer who encouraged the young cook to expand his culinary horizons, and Boccuzzi set out for Europe where he spent three years working at notable restaurants in Italy, France and England.
Back in the States, Boccuzzi donned the executive chef hat at Silks at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco. In his three years at Silks, he introduced a classically grounded menu with touches of Asian flavor and gained two James Beard nominations for Rising Star Chef of the Year. But the traveling bug bit again and Boccuzzi headed for Hong Kong and Taiwan, working in a number of restaurants to expand his knowledge of Asian cuisine. He then combined his Asian experience and Italian heritage as the executive chef at Armani/NOBU in Italy.
Now back at Aureole as executive chef, Boccuzzi creates dishes in which he combines all these influences with his mastery of technique and knowledge of how flavor works. A guiding principle is umami, the savory “fifth flavor” found in meat, seafood, mushrooms and soy sauce. For example, to create deep, rich flavor in mushroom stock, he roasts the mushrooms and adds Kikkoman Soy Sauce. The umami of the soy sauce brings out the meatiness of the mushrooms, and the light, yet intense broth is poured over a potato-wrapped fillet of sea bass at the table for a dramatic presentation. His recipe for benefits from the same principle of flavor synergy between soy sauce and mushrooms.
Boccuzzi relies on Kikkoman products because he knows the quality is consistently high. He stocks his home pantry with Kikkoman as well, and he enjoys cooking for his wife and three children on his days off. But instead of the spaghetti he ate growing up, he heads for an Asian markets to pick up noodles and vegetables for a hot pot—his kids are already handy with chopsticks, and enjoy monthly visits to the local sushi bar!