Originally from Pisa, historical city of Tuscany, Nicola Russo’s culinary career began early on, inspired by his grandmother and her love and respect for the art of cooking. After graduating from the culinary institute IPSCAT G. Matteotti at age of 18, Nicola sought opportunities to further develop his own creativity and, during his apprenticeship, has worked for a number of Michelin starred restaurants and luxury hotels in Europe, Middle East, Australia and Asia.
In his last post before moving to Tosca, Nicola took his first chef de Cuisine role at fine dining restaurant Il Ristorante, at Bulgari resort Bali, where he elevated his cuisine to its current state and receiving several accolades.
In 2017 Chef Nicola moved to Hong Kong to take the reins at Tosca, working along with his mentor, Chef Pino Lavarra with whom they have confirmed a one Michelin star rating for the third consecutive year.
From July 2018, Chef Nicola Russo is now the figurehead of Italian cuisine in Ritz Carlton hotels and his mission is to continue Tosca’s pursuit of showcasing the best quality and creativity to the palates of Hong Kong’s discerning gourmands.
When is outside his kitchen , Chef Nicola’s main hobby is practicing sport. He is an avid marathon runner and used to be a triathlete who came overall third position at Bali International Triathlon in 2016.
We sat down with Chef Nicola Russo to discuss his story.
1. Your restaurant/business?
‘Tosca’ at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
2. Describe your kitchen?
1 Michelin Star restaurant with Italian fine dining
3. Favorite Chef Works item and why?
The new Valencia exceutive chef coat because its light and comfortable
4. First job?
At The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong it’s Chef de Cuisine
5. Your favorite cookbook?
Eleven Madison Park
6. Your awards?
1 Michelin star in 2017 and 2018. 3 Forks by the Gamberorosso guide 2018. 5 stars Forbes travel guide 2018. Best Restaurants Hong Kong Tatler 2018
7. Your cooking inspiration?
I get inspired by my travels, job and experiences I had around the globe , working along with amazing people and learning their culture.
8. Your specialty dish?
I like to cook seafood but being Italian I love making pasta too.
9. Favorite dish to eat?
10. Weirdest thing you ever ate?
Kopi Luwak (made in Bali) the most expensive coffee in the world.. and probably the weirdest since it has been produced from the coffee beans which have been eaten, digested and defecated by Indonesian civet cat.
11. Favorite ice cream flavor?
12. Favorite drink?
13. Favorite wine (be specific)?
Sassicala, Tenuta San Guido, Bofgheri Tuscany.
14. Who would you most like to cook for?
15. Who would you least like to cook for?
16. Favorite things to do when not cooking?
17. Your latest project?
“Dolce Vita Toscana”. A new promotion that will start in September at my restaurant. An alternative Saturday lunch with wine pairing. The menu features iconic Tuscan dishes such as the Panzanella- a refreshing bread salad served with tuna tartare; the Cacciucco Alla Livornese – a traditional seafood soup originated from the port of Livorno and the Tagliata di Manzo – a decadent charcoal grilled Florentine-style steak. Putting a perfect ending to the gourmet journey is the Toscana “picnic basket” – a photogenic sweet surprise that delights guests palates.
18. Favorite city and why?
Sydney one of the world’s most amazing and diverse cities I’ve ever been. Beautiful weather, lot of sport activities, amazing landscapes, tourist attractions and more.
19. Your greatest indulgence?
I love to eat sweets especially chocolate
20.Your all time best culinary tip?
Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.
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