Every Monday, production coordinator, Camila Salles and I have our weekly one-on-one. We’ve held meetings in different places but we always end up feeling inspired at T’a Milano. Right around the corner from the Gucci offices, it is a bright modern Italian bistro, full of marble and velvet that draws a very sophisticated crowd that feels energetic and refined. It’s not just the space though, the menu is accessible but feels elevated. The restaurant boasts clear glass cases with truffles, candies, cookies, pastries, and gorgeous gift packs. Of course, we had to know who was in the kitchen.
CITY GIRL: What does being a chef mean to you?
CARLO: Well I really only started as a chef a little while ago. It’s been about 10 years, but I wouldn’t call myself a chef yet. The person who runs a kitchen with an entire crew behind them is a true chef, you are no one without your crew.
Said in true Calabrese style: loyalty and your crew is everything in the kitchen. You need to feel secure about who you’ve got working next to you to pull off the complicated orchestra that is lunch and dinner service…
What is it like cooking in a bank vault you ask? Well it certainly keeps you focused. Bustling around in the kitchen, I wondered how Carlo sees himself as a chef.
CITY GIRL: So what type of people do you cook for?
CARLO: People who have good taste and want something good. I cook with just a few ingredients so maybe people in design or architecture will appreciate the good base. But in the end, people who just want good food.
Carlo was really easy going in the kitchen but very focused. He was open to trying new things but overall relied on traditional recipes like risotto and a good steak, done using classic techniques, and a colorful but minimalist approach to plating.
CITY GIRL: Is there something you just have to have in the kitchen, no matter what the budget?
CARLO: Well I’m Calabrese so something that is a base ingredient to have in the kitchen, even if it doesn’t cost a lot, is ‘Nduja from Calabria. Gotta have it.
‘Nduja is a spicy, flavorful spreadable salami, a famous Calabrian specialty. It is one of my favorite things in the world and he’s right, it should go in everything.
CITY GIRL: What does it mean to be a successful chef?
CARLO: More than anything, it’s when people walk away happy with a smile on their face. It’s about service and knowing that people have eaten well and been taken care of.
CITY GIRL: Is there something you have to have just your way in the kitchen?
CARLO: My knife. Don’t touch my knife. It’s like the Excaliber, it doesn’t get moved.
CITY GIRL: If you could get chef whites custom made by any designer, who would it be?
CARLO: Dsquared. All the way.