While growing up in Northern Italy, Fedozzi was intimately involved with food from a young age. He learned about pastas and antipasti at his parents’ salumi shops in Genova and delighted in the meals and aromas while his family gathered around the kitchen table.
Fluent in English, Italian and Spanish, he was expected to become a translator, but followed his true passion and attended the Marco Polo Culinary Institute in Genova. Fedozzi’s career began in the kitchens of some of Europe’s most renowned establishments including: The Savoy Hotel in London, England; Louis XII Restaurant in Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Grand Hotel Park in Gstaad, Switzerland. At Ristorante Aladino in Genova, Fedozzi became one of the first chefs in Italy to present nouvelle cuisine. He strives to share his enthusiasm for taste and presentation and lives by the philosophy that “the quality of ingredients is everything and simplicity of execution is a must.”
What inspired you to become a chef, where did you study?
My parents. Watching them creating culinary masterpieces inspired me and introduced me to the culinary world. I studied at the Marco Polo Culinary Institute of Genova where I got a Master in Culinary and a bachelor in Hotel & Restaurant Administration.
What was the transition like coming from Italy to the States in terms of working in a restaurant for you?
I spent a lot of time working abroad and experienced many different work environments. It is very easy for me to adapt to new situations and work environments. I guess I was lucky enough to already know the language and open a restaurant for childhood friends in Manhattan.
Have any mentors? What have you learned from them?
All the great Chefs/Teachers I worked with in the past, but most of all my parents. They taught me to be humble, to have respect for others and to work hard.
What are a few of your favorite ingredients to cook with?
Most definitely, house made pasta, fresh herbs and EVOO.
Are you using sustainable sources for your dishes?
As much as I can. I have been lucky enough to work for companies that are very committed to sustainability and I always try to follow those guidelines as strictly as possible.
What advice would you give to young chefs just getting started?
To really take a hard look at this profession. It is a very rewarding job but it can be extremely difficult. They have to be willing to work very hard if they want to be successful.
Do you change your menu seasonally? What’s the process in developing new menu entrées?
Right now I don’t. In menu development, the most important fundamental is the study of the demographic in which you are cooking so you may establish and build the taste for your audience. After that, the availability of products especially if you are using local and seasonal ingredients is critical. Another important parameter is food trends. At my current restaurant after taking all of these items into account we have a menu of items that does not change throughout the years. We do offer a variety of specials to showcase seasonal ingredients and offer regulars something new if they are interested in venturing outside their “usual” order.
On the equipment side, do you have pieces of equipment that you like to use that makes your job easier in preparing dishes?
Old style Chefs will probably say your hands and a good knife are enough, but I welcome any piece of equipment that saves me time without sacrificing quality. Why knead by hand when I can use an electric mixer?
The restaurant industry has a very broad range of foods, what’s your buying approach? Do you go out to bid on a regular basis or do you look for loyalty from vendors?
I believe 100% in loyalty. I prefer to pay more for a better quality ingredient from a vendor that I trust.
The restaurant business can be fierce on Long Island, especially during the summer season. How do you compete?
Price and quality. Lately, quality seems to be slipping in vendors and in other restaurants and we refuse to let that happen here – I do not give up! Price is also a driving factor for many people when choosing a restaurant and we believe some people are willing to pay more for a better product of higher quality. It’s also always necessary to find new ways to reach new customers and increase revenue.
What roles does the vendor community on both the equipment and food supply side play?
Extremely vital – without quality control in both those areas I cannot be my best. I refuse to stand for anything less and therefore we are always seeking quality vendors (who we remain loyal to) for both our equipment and food supply.
There’s always talks of healthier eating, are your customers looking for that at your locations, and if so, how do you cater to the growing demand?
Again, it depends on demographic. Younger customers are more prone to look for healthier eating options. It is very easy to cater to them; just eliminate all the unhealthy ingredients, something we did for centuries in Italy with the Mediterranean diet. We have all the tools in place to prepare a healthier version of our dishes.
Do you feel that the restaurant industry suffers too much from Zagat, Yelp, and other consumer review sights? Are consumers depending too much on reviews?
I don’t particularly like Yelp; anybody can write anything about anybody – whether they have been to the restaurant or not. It’s entirely possible a competitor put a bad review up to try to steal customers. Zagat it is just too political.
I do place a lot of relevance on some food blogs that I believe have both authority and followers. Those writers tend to be credentialed and have more knowledge and experience when it comes to critiquing restaurants.
Whether good, bad or a mix of both, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in our industry over the years?
Definitely guests are more informed about food and wine. Our profession changed enormously in the past thirty years. The profession and particularly chefs have been elevated and some turned into stars, and this is thanks to the media and most of all the Food Network. Fresh ingredients are more available, accessible and more affordable than in previous years. I only wish we trained our young chefs better and there was a stronger mentoring process.