Jacopo Crosti, Head Chef of Beirut restaurant, was born and raised in Varese in the Lombardian region of Italy. Jacopo developed an interest in cooking from an early age, fascinated with the aromas emanating from the kitchen of his mother and grandmothers.
From early on, Jacopo knew he enjoyed creating food to please his friends and family and luckily he transformed his passion into his work.
He began his food career as a commis chef in a small restaurant owned by a family. This gave him a little taste of the industry, which was all he needed to realise that he truly wanted to pursue a culinary career. After a few years working in Varese, Jacopo moved to London where he was lucky enough to gain experience in a few michelin star restaurants.
This is where his career truly started. After a few years in the UK, he decided to move to Spain, where he learned the importance of seasonality in respecting the produce.
Luckily, he managed to match his passion for travelling with his job and soon enough had travelled all around the world. Across Europe, USA, Australia and beyond, where he increased his knowledge about food, techniques and cooking with respect.
In 2012 he finally settled to New Zealand, and here is where he refined his style. Under the guidance of Sid Sahrawat, owner and chef of Sidart, Jacopo’s cooking skill evolved drastically. The confidence he gained, helped him to step up and take the opportunity offered to him when Javier Carmona offered him a partnership on a project called Beirut.
Who did you learn about cooking from, and what was the most useful thing they taught you?
I learnt about cooking from my mother and grandmother when I was young, I was fascinated about all the aromas coming from the kitchen on Sunday morning. I developed my pure passion for cooking after. The most useful thing I’ve been taught during my career is the simplicity and the importance of seasonality
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I always thought being a DJ would be an amazing job. In my free time I’m constantly listening to music, researching different artists and genres. I get a lot of energy out of discovering new sounds.
How do you find your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from everyday things and many times from unexpected places. There is no one place to find inspiration and a lot of it comes from experience and collaboration with my colleagues and other chefs, it’s a very organic process
Who in the food world do you most admire?
People who inspire me are those who approach cuisine with innovative thinking and attempt challenge the industry. I really admire chefs that push boundaries with flavours and encourage deeper thinking to the food they create. There are multiple chefs currently who I feel have revolutionised the culinary world, because of their lateral thinking. I admire anyone who makes an effort to be different.
Favourite foods to cook with?
Good extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan
Are there any foods you just don’t like?
Processed food- it’s evil.
What is going to be the next big thing in the food world?
Increased appreciation and utilisation of local products. I think this is especially true in New Zealand.
Do you have any kitchen disaster stories
Yes, when I was 17 I was working at a big wedding of about 300 people. It was my job to bring out the wedding cake. As I carried it down the stairs, I slipped and dropped it all over the floor just as it was about to be served. I think the bride cried… so did I.
Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
Never use a pre-made product. Food will always taste better if you buy fresh, whole ingredients. It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy, it just needs to come from the heart.
Place you like to eat on days off?
Apero – Amazing wine list, and very tasty food. Baduzzi- its a unique take on Italian cuisine and is always surprising. Chop Chop – it’s got great, bold flavours and so comforting to eat. Pasture- a recent discovery and one of my favourite places in Auckland. Very forward thinking and well executed.
Meet Jacopo Crosti at the MiNDFOOD Festive Hour Tour and hear more about his food philosophy. Click here for tickets.