In Partnership with FIC UK
Taking the private dining world by storm, Costantino Nuzzo joined the Federation of Italian Chefs in the UK (FIC UK) in 2019 and has since then been forging an impressive path in the culinary world. TripDigest sits down with him and finds out about his new project and how FIC UK helped him achieve his goals.
The Federation of Italian Chefs is one of the very few bodies in the UK whose sole purpose is to create a community amongst Italian chefs. Through cooking initiatives and renowned partnerships, the organisation helps young chefs progress in their career. Recently, we were fortunate enough to speak directly with one of its undisputed rising stars, Costantino Nuzzo, a promising chef from a small town near Caserta in Southern Italy.
For the longest time, chefs earned their respect, learned skills and gained a reputation by working in the world’s top restaurants side by side with Michelin star chefs. But Costantino has taken a lightly different path. Thanks to the Federation, he is swelling the ranks in the world of private dining- turning up the heat as he does so.
His career before joining the Federation was by no means unimpressive. At twenty nine years old he has already worked at the Cipriani, Hari Hotel, Soho House, and has spilled into the European kitchens of Italy and Spain.
Having said all this, he speaks most ardently about his recent adventures as a private chef, claiming that “it was always my dream.” He quickly found his feet and entered into the esteemed kitchens of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Meeting Costantino over zoom wasn’t what I expected. A young, innocent-looking chef popped up on the screen who was looking immaculate in his FIC UK chef’s coat. He explains that early last year, he was working as a private chef for an Italian family in Knightsbridge but before the second wave of the pandemic hit the UK, the family returned to Italy. Asking if the pandemic would have a lasting effect on his career, he responds confidently by saying, “when you are creative you will always be able to find opportunities.”
Instantly coming across as someone with plenty of dedication, determination and drive, Costantino completed five years of culinary school in Italy, plucked up the courage, and headed to London to receive his inauguration at the Cipriani. “I never thought I would get the job,” he said modestly. “I did a trial shift on Friday and the next day they called me and offered me a job.”
Being outside of his comfort zone remains critical to his success.“I don’t want to learn only one style or one method or one type of cuisine” he says. From the start, he has been thrown in the deep end and early on he decided he wanted to swim rather than drown. But he emphasises that it was his time at Floridita (now 100 Wardour Street) that proved formidable in shaping his character.
“I was completely alone in my section which is something I hadn’t experienced before. Orders were piling up. I mean we were doing about 500 covers a night- it was crazy. When I finally did get someone on my section, they were useless, and I had to babysit them as well.” Rather than crumbling under pressure, he excelled. “Eight months later I was promoted and made employer of the year. Normally they give that accolade after twelve months.”
Costantino then joined the Federation in 2019 which gave him the opportunity to participate in live cooking shows. He became an instant success in front of the crowd. Shortly after he joined, he won the award for the Young and Talented in Hospitality.
His success continued to grow when he joined Mosimann’s Catering Service. Founded by two Michelin star chef Anton Mosimann, Costantino had the daunting task of cooking for Royals including Prince Harry at Royal Ascot. He nevertheless sharpened his knives and was soon cooking to a standard that can only be compared to a French kitchen.
Being a private chef is a different kettle of fish he explains, “it’s like having a judge around you every day. You receive more criticism than you do in the kitchen because there is always something that people want to change, and you have to be ready for that.”
The pandemic has inevitably given Costantino time away from the private dining world. In what he describes as a “natural progression,” he along with an ever- growing library of other chefs are working on a project called In My Kitchen, a start-up company which offers comprehensive and refined menus that people can order through the app and delivered to their door the next day. With many of us stuck at home during the pandemic, thwarting any chance of being able to go to restaurants, In My kitchen is a welcomed initiative for for fine dining enthusiasts.
In line with the current dire social situation, hospitality will clearly not be able to bounce back for some time and this is certainly a breath of fresh air. Even in the midst of this pandemic, people can still create and be creative.
Instagram Account: @chef_costantino_
You can find out how to be a part of FIC UK via email: email@example.com
Gourmet Courgette Flower by Costantino
The filling for the courgette flower:
Philadelphia cheese, chopped anchovies, the natural oil from the anchovy and chives.
For the tempura mix:
Corn flour, plain flour, sparkling water and salt
With a fork, bind together all the ingredients for the filling and with a piping bag stuff the courgette flower carefully. Bind the ingredients for the tempura mix and coat the flowers with it.
Fry the courgette flowers at exactly 140 degrees.
In the meantime, boil the green courgettes and blend with a handheld blender.
Make a mash potato puree and add the egg white and egg yolk separately to the mash potato. Add the puree into a piping bag and press it into a flower stamp, cooking it at 180 degrees for 8 minutes.
Decorate with salmon caviar, yellow courgettes, asparagus powder, lemon zest, blended green courgettes, basil oil and anchovy mayonnaise.
Suggested wine pairing: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from Ancona