2005 New York City Rising Star Chef Marco Canora of Hearth - New York, NY of Hearth
403 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10009
Marco Canora's contemporary Italian dishes at Hearth are a direct reflection of his sincerity and passion for his craft. Learning to cook as a young boy working alongside his Tuscan mother and aunt, Canora eventually traveled to Florence, Italy, where he apprenticed at Fabbio Picchi's renowned Cibreo. As the original chef at Tom Colicchio's restaurant concepts Craft and Craftbar, Canora focused the spotlight on the highest quality ingredients, and influenced a new trend in simplified American dining. In 2004, he opened Hearth, a cozy neighborhood restaurant with a menu that showcases his extensive knowledge of ingredients and traditional Italian technique.
Interview with Chef Marco Canora of Hearth - New York, NY
StarChefs: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Marco Canora: I cooked as a child with my mom and aunt. My family’s from Luca. I grew up in the Hudson Valley. We had a huge garden. It gave me a huge advantage when I started cooking as a career. In high school I got a job in a restaurant washing dishes, then I moved up to pots, then garde manger.
SC: Did you attend culinary school? Why or why not? Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
MC: I didn’t go to culinary school. I went to business school. I’m not very impressed with culinary grads. A year stage produces better workers.
SC: Can you talk about your mentors?
MC: Fabio Picchi of Cibrao in Florence. He taught me the concept of deep, layered flavors. It’s not about foams and jelly; it’s about wholesome good food. Tom Collichio helped me learn to look at the business end of it.
SC: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like? Why?
MC: Preserved lemon helps any dish: fish, meat. The ultimate condiment is a spicey olive oil—young and peppery. The kind that burns the back of your throat.
SC: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
MC: A stainless steel food-mill. It’s the most universal tool.
SC: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way? Please describe.
MC: I put all my fish scraps through the food-mill and create an unbelievable fish puree that I use on my crudo plates. Also the use of soffrito in unusual ways.
SC: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
MC: I always do a trial where I access knife skills and fundamentals. Line cooks are tough to find.
SC: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
MC: You better be prepared to work a lot: 70 hours a week. Realize it is about sacrifice. Saying no to friends and family. It’s a big commitment. Forget sports. There’s no time.
SC: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
MC: Tokyo. I’ve been there twice. They have a respect for their food that doesn’t exist anywhere else. They appreciate subtlety and quality. Also Florence. I love the freshness, the artisan producers.
SC: What are your favorite restaurants in New York?
MC: Al di La in Brooklyn. Café Boulud: there wasn’t a foam or micro-green on the plate. It was incredibly satisfying; what food should be. Bar Piti for their veal meatballs, bread soup.
SC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
MC: Dead! Burnt-out. This is a slippery stone. I’d like to have more restaurants. I love the excitement of creating new concepts, new restaurants.