Chef Pino Maffeo of Restaurant L - Boston Rising Star on
Pino Maffeo
Restaurant L
234 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 266 4680

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Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Pino Maffeo: It was the only thing I wanted to do. My mom inspired me – she is the best cook on the planet. She’s from Italy and came here in the ‘70s.

AB: Where did you train?
PM: I made it a point not to work for people who were famous. I wanted to work for people who were incredible. A good chef has the passion within.

AB: What chefs do you most admire?
PM: Pierre Gagnaire and Joel Robuchon.

AB: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool?
PM: My underwear! Just kidding. My syringes and my Japanese knives.

AB: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
PM: New York - it’s the modern-day Rome and the culinary capital of the world. It encompasses all cultures. You can’t beat New York City. Next in line would be Paris, then London, and Italy.

AB: What are your favorite food haunts in your city?
PM: Santoria Pizza. It’s down the street from my house.

AB: What do you make for yourself?
PM: Mortadella sandwiches.

AB: What is your favorite spice?
PM: At the moment it’s honeysuckle.

AB: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way?
PM: About 12 years ago I started fooling around with perfumes and essential oils, and began using them in my cooking.

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Pino Maffeo

Pino Maffeo’s Italian family has always held cooking and cuisine as a top priority, so it was no wonder that this East Boston native felt a calling toward a culinary career. After graduating from Newbury Culinary College in 1991, he worked at several restaurants around the country learning the art of world cuisine from European chefs. Interested in learning the business end of the restaurant, Maffeo took a job as Task Force Chef for the Marriott Corporation. In a year and a half of working with master chef Oliver Kroft, he had opened several restaurants throughout the country.

In 1992 he drove cross-country to San Francisco. He trailed at almost every restaurant in the city before settling at one of the city’s early fusion restaurants, Café Katie. His next position was opening a restaurant called Molhern and Shackern with Laurence Vito who at the time was a spokesperson of Californian cuisine. As Chef de Partie there, Maffeo became friends with a cook who would later play a significant role in his life – Patricia Yeo. After nine months at Molhern and Shackern, Maffeo was asked to become Chef de Cuisine at San Francisco’s Inn at the Opera, where he stayed for three years during which he and the chef received “three-stars” from The San Francisco Chronicle.

After a phone call from his childhood friend Tony Susi in 1996, Maffeo moved back to Boston to join him as Co-Executive Chef in his new venture, Sage. The restaurant, located in the city’s famous Italian haven, the North End, was instantly a critical success. Shortly after the opening, a job opportunity opened up for Susi and he left for San Francisco. Maffeo remained as Executive Chef and for the next three years, he helped change the dining mentality of the neighborhood, bringing a new standard of cooking to Boston’s North End. Restaurant goers loved dishes such as Poached Foie Gras in Sauternes with Prickly Pear Syrup and Braised Beef Cheeks Maltagliati “Crazy Cut” Pasta. Maffeo was even asked to address a class at the nearby Radcliffe on the restaurant’s behalf.

In October 1999, Maffeo received another phone call that this time would bring him to Manhattan and alter his culinary career. Long-time friend and colleague Patricia Yeo offered him the Chef de Cuisine position at AZ. With Maffeo’s help, AZ ultimately earned three stars from The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business, and The New York Observer. Then, as Co-Executive Chef at Yeo’s second restaurant venture, Pazo, Maffeo and Yeo developed menus with Mediterranean influence. Early after Pazo’s opening in August 2002, this culinary duo earned critical raves for their inventive menus including another three stars from Crain’s New York Business. Eric Asimov (The New York Times) later praised Maffeo’s “unfettered approach,” which makes Mediterranean cuisine appear “new and exciting, full of wonderful ingredients and flavor combinations.”

In the autumn of 2003, Maffeo was tapped by Louis Boston’s owner Debi Greenberg to help revamp her restaurant (formerly Café Louis) at her acclaimed shopping destination on Newbury Street. In January 2004, Restaurant L was born. Within a year, Restaurant L became noted as one of Boston's brightest and most acclaimed new restaurants. Here, Maffeo features clean, simple and inventive cuisine with influences from Southeast Asia and Japan. In 2004, Esquire named the restaurant one of the “Best New Restaurants” of the year. In that same year, Maffeo and Restaurant L garnered several media accolades including being named one of the top ten new restaurants of the year by Travel & Leisure; one of the “best new restaurants in the world” in Robb Report’s “Best of the Best” issue; one of Boston’s best new faces by The Boston Globe Magazine, and he was also selected as one of Boston Magazine's top "tastemakers." In August 2005, Boston Magazine awarded Maffeo “Best New Chef: Up and Coming” in their annual “Best of Boston” issue, and he has been most recently named a 2006 Rising Star Chef by He has made several television appearances including segments on CBS “The Early Show,” The Food Network, and PBS’s “Simply Ming.” Maffeo continues to wow critics and diners alike with dishes such as Kobe Beef Wrapped Potato Spring Roll with Miso Sauce; Dandelion & Ricotta Ravioli with Spring Peas and Morel Mushrooms; Duck Milanese with Red Pepper, Scallions, Pineapple, Cashews; Wok Seared Lobster, Spicy Thai Coconut Broth and, Tapioca Pearls; and Applewood Grilled Market Beef, Crispy Potato, and Four Different Salts.

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Interview Cont'd
AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
PM: Are you married? Do you love to cook from your heart? You have to really love it. It’s a lifestyle. You can feel it – see it in their eyes.

AB: What advice/tips do you have for culinary students just getting started?
PM: For the people who really love it, it’s a life-long dream. Be patient and know in your heart. Don’t be afraid and don’t look back.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
PM: I want to be able to afford to have a place where I could have the top talent, hang out, cook, share ideas, and push the envelope.


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   Published: March 2006