Today we have the honor to interview Gianluca Tomasi, famous chef from Vicenza, owner of the „Cucina Tomasi“ deli store, as well as member of the Italian National Chefs Team, who recently won the gold medal in the „Cold Table“ category at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg.
• We know that you are familiar with this kind of competitions, how long have you been part of the Italian National Chefs Team? How many awards have you won so far?
I joined the Italian National Chefs Team in 1986, the year in which I won my first diploma. The first gold medal in the individual arrived in 1994. That was my eighth participation in this important culinary competition, that over the years has given me the chance to win fifteen medals and then to become the Italian chef with more participations in the National Team. From 2000 to 2012 I was also Captain while from 2016 I cover the role of Team Manager.
• In addition to participating in culinary events around the world, you are also very active in training. What have been your experiences as a teacher so far?
I have been dealing with training for many years, holding courses both in Italy and in the rest of Europe. For two years I was the director of the Ateneo della Cucina Italiana, a travelling training Academy that, through the chefs of the Italian Chefs Federation, realizes professional cooking and pastry refresher courses in collaboration with educational institutions and foreign institutes. I have also been teaching for 10 years at the San Gaetano Professional Training Center in Vicenza, where I take care of the cooking laboratory, at the Università del Gusto (with headquarters at the Esac Training Center, a Confcommercio Vicenza’s structure for updating and professional training), and at the prestigious CAST Alimenti in Brescia, a nationally recognized cooking school.
• Tell us now about your company: what is it about? What makes it an excellence of the Vicenza culinary scene?
The company is basically a deli store, actually active for 24 years. We also deal with catering services and we have a location for themed dinners in the outskirts of Vicenza.
What sets us apart is definitely the experience, as well as the professionalism. Moreover, for me the choice of raw materials is very important, which is done respecting the seasonality of the products. I really care about passing on my teachings to new generations, constantly updating myself and participating in events on the territory. This allows me not only to make myself known but also to ensure continuity and growth for the company.
• How long have you been welcoming trainees in your company? From which country have you welcomed so far? How do you get on with trainees from Europe?
I have been welcoming trainees for about 10 years, at the beginning occasionally, then more and more frequently. In addition to Italians, I have had trainees from Germany, Poland (thanks to the collaboration with Eurocultura), Guatemala, Africa, Japan. Obviously, the Italian ones are more advantaged from the point of view not only of language but also of the acclimatization and this perhaps makes them more active and dynamic, but we have always had good experiences with foreign trainees too.
• What are the tasks assigned to them? How are they integrated into the company? What can a trainee learn from you?
Trainees are usually given the task of preparing the dish, not finishing it. By this I mean, for example, filleting fish, cutting meat and vegetables, etc.
They are busy both in the morning and in the afternoon, in fact they respect the standard store hours, compatibly with the timetables of public transport they use to reach the company. They work in team with other fellow cooks, who are always available to provide any kind of explanation or help needed. Here trainees can learn first of all the work organization and then, most important, they can “breathe love” for this profession that is of course very demanding but can also offer great satisfaction.
• How does communication with the trainees takes place? Does the staff speak English?
We never had any communication problems; the staff is doing pretty well with English… and then we all speak the universal language of cooking!
• Tell us something funny that happened to you!
Four years ago Andrea, one of my coworkers, had established a wonderful relationship with the trainee we hosted, so much so that, when his relatives arrived he went to pick them up at the airport and he ran them all around Vicenza for days. Even today we laugh about it and when a new trainee arrives, we ask Andrea if he wants to be a taxi driver for him this time too!
• Finally, we would like to know, what are your next projects?
In February 2019 there will be the European selection for the Global Chefs Challenge, a prestigious international competition, and then the next important goal will be the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart in 2020.
Then, in January, my book about broccolo fiolaro, an excellence of the Vicenza area, will be published, which will be added to the other volumes I have written, personally or in collaboration with other distinguished colleagues.
In short, I certainly have no time to get bored!
Interviewer: Federica Perazzolo