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By Faye Bradley | October 20th, 2021

Those familiar with Hong Kong’s Italian dining scene knows that there are only a fair few restaurants that authentically represent the cuisine. One such example is The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hong Kong’s Tosca di Angelo, sitting high up in the clouds in a luxurious setting. Although Tosca is more of a fine dining establishment, Chef Angelo Agliano takes much of his inspiration from childhood recipes from his mum and grandmother growing up.

With its delightful dishes, sweeping views and top-notch service, it’s easy to see why this restaurant holds a Michelin star close to its heart. We chat with Chef Angelo on his journey to culinary stardom.

How did you get into food and cooking?

I am inspired by my family, especially my mum and grandmother. When I was young and growing-up in Sicily, I would need to assist them cooking for the family. Then, when I was 14, I had a chance to work in a restaurant in Milan, and I have dreamed of becoming a chef ever since.

What training did you do to become a chef?

In 2008, I closely worked with culinary maestro Joël Robuchon who profoundly influenced my cooking philosophy. Starting at Joël Robuchon in Monaco, I quickly rose up the ranks. Later, I helped with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon’s expansion in Asia opening both its Hong Kong and Taipei restaurants. During my tenure at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong, the restaurant garnered three Michelin stars.

What do you think are the most important attributes for a chef?

“Being a leader” – Leadership is the key to success, even more so when you work in F&B. As a chef, you are a bit like the captain of a navy ship, you’ve got to train an army of talents and be there in case something goes wrong. Whilst most people are gathering with their loved ones, we are behind the ovens. That’s why, you have to regard your team as a family and treat everyone equally regardless of position. Keeping your team’s morale high and giving your fellows a sense of ownership and recognition will not only offer personal satisfaction but also be reflected in your team’s performance. 

What makes Tosca di Angelo unique in the Hong Kong dining scene?

I treat Tosca di Angelo as a platform that can create synergy between the team and guests. When I first came to Tosca, I moved all the furniture, half facing the harbour and half facing the open kitchen. I changed all the dishes and the concept of Tosca to bring in more authentic Italian flavours create memorable experiences for guests.

Do you think Italian cuisine requires a particular set of skills that are different from those required for other cuisines?

From my perspective, being a chef requires you to have a “heart” and make yourself stand out from the rest. You have to grant a soul to each dish and to create a unique taste and experience for all diners. If you cook without passion, the dish will never impress and the guests can definitely feel it.

How do you balance traditional Italian cuisine with modern tastes?

Having worked in different countries, I have realized how important adaptation is. When I first came to Hong Kong, I went to the night market to observe and understand local tastes and culture. I noticed that Hong Kong people favor light flavours and I immediately adjusted the level of salt and sugar in my dishes.

Places I used to work in are so different and I always had to adapt. As a chef, you will never succeed if you insist on imposing your own flavor without listening to the local audience. 

What do you want diners to take away from their experience at Tosca di Angelo?

Being a chef, I want to create dishes that can touch the diners’ heart, whether that’s through the taste, flavors, presentation of the dish, service or the overall ambience. Memorable experiences come from all these factors combined. A delicious dish with world class service will always remain in guests’ hearts. 

What’s next at Tosca di Angelo?

For Tosca di Angelo, I will keep improving the dishes, taste and service in order to remain as one of the most popular fine dining Italian restaurants in Hong Kong. I will further explore the concept of Tosca di Angelo, and hope that one day there are more “Tosca di Angelo” restaurants in various Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world. In time, if the concept is developed, my team can continue to bring the unique “Tosca di Angelo” culture and service standard to every Ritz-Carlton hotel. 

Dishin’ the Dirt profile.