GBA Lifestyle News
City Living Section
By Gayatri Bhaumik | November 20th, 2019

Grissini, the beloved Italian restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, has just emerged from a swanky makeover, and leading the new restaurant is a young Neapolitan chef de cuisine, Marcello Scognamiglio. While the restaurant’s iconic grissini breadsticks remain, Scognamiglio is making his mark on the restaurant with a menu of homey, authentic Italian recipes.

How did you get into food and cooking?

I remember that when I was a kid, I didn’t eat tomatoes. I hated the smell of it. Tomato was everywhere – tomato sauce, tomato salad, eggplant with tomato [but I didn’t like it]. So imagine [my surprise] that today, it’s my favorite ingredient! It’s always different; tomato is, like me, always in a state of evolution. I say this because I didn’t choose to get into food. When you’re a kid in Napoli, food is everywhere. It’s diet. It’s medicine. You can’t escape from it.

What training did you do to become a chef?

After finishing my culinary school training, I moved to France. This was the toughest time of my life. French chefs, they teach you how to become a standardized chef; Italian chefs teach you how to love your job and let your creativity shine!

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

Passion. Taste. Creativity.

What makes a good dish?

Flavor, texture, cooking method, presentation.

What has influenced your cooking style?

My childhood memories have shaped me as a chef. Growing up watching my grandma cooking, I became interested in exploring the culinary world. My grandma’s recipes were really authentic, so my cooking style brings authentic Italian cuisine to our guests.

You’ve worked at Michelin-starred kitchens in Italy and France. What did you learn from these experiences?

Chefs live their own lives in the back of the kitchen. Even if you work for the best restaurant in the world, believe me, you’re in the kitchen and need to deliver your tasks quickly and to your best. At the end of the day, you have no time to realize what’s going on outside! Being in a Michelin-starred kitchen teaches you to become a soldier, but traveling shows you how to think outside the box.

What inspired you while creating the new menu at Grissini?

Being authentic, respecting my traditions, and creating my own key vision. For the new menu, I mainly applied by traditional cooking style to create authentic Italian cuisine. From my previous work experiences in Asia, I realized that I also needed to fine-tune the recipes to suit local taste-buds.

What do you consider your signature dishes at Grissini?

The Vitello Tonnato really represents what we’re trying to do here in Grissini. It’s a classic dish with very strong roots that’s presented as a lighter interpretation.

What do you hope guests take away from their experience at Grissini?

We hope that through the new refurbishment and the new menu that I’ve created, guests would see Grissini as a place to enjoy the very best Italian fare without too much fanfare.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got so many things going on right now here that Grissini is the present, it’s where I’m focusing at the moment! We are working so hard to achieve great results!

Dishin’ the Dirt profile.