2013 New York Rising Star Chef Michal Toscano of
Michael Toscano, who hails from Texas, stumbled into a career in hospitality. A frequent golfer, he applied for work at a local country club to make a few bucks. Initially landing a job washing dishes, Toscano quickly grew interested in the suds-free side of the kitchen and worked his way through the prep and hot lines.
After deciding on the kitchen as his career calling, Toscano spent three years in an apprenticeship at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. As soon as he completed the program, he moved to New York City and landed a job at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Transitioning to the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Toscano took a sous chef position at Babbo and later became executive chef of Eataly’s Manzo, the meat centric fine-dining spot in the restaurant group’s 60,000-square foot food mecca.
In 2012, Toscano opened Perla with Gabriel Stulman in Greenwich Village. He is now serving bold Italian dishes in a menu that reflects his no-nonsense approach and penchant for cooking carne. With Toscano at the helm, Perla landed two stars from The New York Times. Toscano is a 2013 James Beard “Rising Star Chef” Semi-Finalist.
I Support: The Mario Batali Foundationwww.mariobatalifoundation.org
Why: They help feed, educate, and empower the children in the United States.
About: Founded by Mario Batali, the foundation brings together successful chefs with grassroots organizations to combat hunger in America and ensure healthy lives for children.
Interview with Chef Michael Toscano of Perla – New York, NY
Dan Catinella: What inspired you to pursue cooking professionally?
Michael Toscano: I used to play golf and got a job at the country club so I could practice every day. I got to know the chef and started watching “Iron Chef Japan” and became very interested in food. I started as a dish washer, and after washing for six months, I started helping on the hot line.
DC: Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs?
MT: I think there are some programs that are better than others, but any schooling like that can be good. It’s always what you put in, is what you get out. Culinary school is not completely necessary.
DC: What advice would you give to young chefs just getting started?
MT: Read as much as you can and work harder than you ever thought you could. It’s the only way you can cut through those first few years. If you’re not so interested and hungry about that in those first years, you get burnt. You have to want it, want more, and want to learn more.
DC: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
MT: I evolved [as a cook] by learning the classics and researching the classic dishes. When you are able to take the foundation of a cuisine you are trying to cook, you can evolve and create amazing things.
DC: What's the toughest thing you've had to do in your job?
MT: The endurance over time. I’m doing what we are doing to work hard, but you want to do it to the best of your ability—and to do it years on end is really difficult.
DC: What trends do you see emerging?
MT: Mixing all these new techniques with traditional cooking and trying to blend the two.
The Mario Batali Foundation