Martino Pace


"My creativity keeps me awake at night. Sometimes I have dreams about ingredients, so I feel that going to markets looking for the best produce fires the imagination"


What made you want to become a chef?

It was really by chance. I enrolled in the school of catering and tourism to be a hotel manager, but I discovered my passion for cooking, so in the third year I decided to learn more about the subject.

What is your first memory of a dish that made you dream?

The first dish that made me dream was a simple pasta dish with pesto - simple but done perfectly.

Who has influenced you in your cooking style or philosophy?

Well, at first, my parents were my best critics: I always tried to surprise them with little dishes, before asking for their feedback. Secondly, the customers who always encourage you to improve. Lastly, many renowned chefs.

What inspires you? or Where does your inspiration come from?

My creativity keeps me awake at night. Sometimes I have dreams about ingredients, so I feel that going to markets looking for the best produce fires the imagination.

What is your favourite culinary method or technique?

I really like using technology in the kitchen. I enjoy using low temperatures and pressure cookers because you can achieve amazing textures. I'm also a great fan of the grill.

What is your favourite ingredient?

I love sage and I use it in many dishes. 

What is your favourite cooking utensil?

I really like pressure cookers.

What material do you prefer for your pans and saucepans?

In terms of aesthetics and heating, copper is really good but if that's not available, then I'm fine with stainless steel.

What would you like to change about the cooking schools?

Cooking schools need to update their teaching. They just limit themselves to cooking in the classical style, forgetting that cooking is always evolving.

Your advice for young chefs.

Every chef needs to find their style and personalise. Don't copy others. Be unique.

What do you look for when you hire someone for your restaurant?

I look for two things I think are essential:

A level of commitment and improvement, and willingness. Everything else can be taught.

How do you motivate your team?

I always try to be a leader, not a boss. I always back my people, rewarding them when they do something outstanding and trying to inspire confidence and support them when there are problems.

What would you like to change in the catering industry?

Cooking critics need to disappear - ha ha. There are so many who don't get the subject, though this not the case for all of them.

What do you do when you have difficult guests?

My customers are my family so you need to treat them right and, often, ride things out. When there's a problem, I always try to speak to them and find out why they are unhappy so I can fix the problem. The ones who don't understand, well I'd like to win them over, but I need always to remain calm.

Where do you like to get away to relax?

I love the sea. Whenever I can, I head to the seaside to relax. Not long ago, I began to box, so I have another way to de-stress.

What pushes you to keep on going?

I always push myself so as not to hit a plateau, but my family and my partner play a vital role in motivating me on a personal level because when I feel supported, that's when I get the best out of myself.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?

I have a very simple one that tends to wildly surprise those who try it: grilled sea bass on lemon risotto with coconut cream. There are lots of elements at play: the crunchiness of the grain, the smoothness of the fish, with the sweetness of the cream and the acidity of the risotto.

What is your favourite restaurant?

I like lots but two which really grabbed me were Massiiliano Alajmo's 'Le Calandre' and Niko Romito's 'Reale'.

Which current chef do you most admire and why?

Undoubtedly Massimiliano Alajmo and Niko Romito, who study the ingredient and all its possibilities, but also Massimo Bottura for everything he's achieved.

How do you think restaurants should be classified? 

Every restaurant should be unique.

I prefer not to label restaurants according to appearance but rather by the vibe I get from them.

They need to give me an experience that touches all my senses.