What better way for a chef heading an Italian restaurant than to hone his craft in a kitchen at a prestigious restaurant in Piacenza, the epicentre of Italian cuisine?
Rob Huza, Head Chef of the new Ponti’s Italian Kitchen in Fox Valley, Sheffield, recently completed his second stint in Italy and sheds light on the experience.
Tell us about your experience of Piacenza
I worked at Locanda Del Falco, an incredible restaurant, where I really learnt to understand the heart of the Italian kitchen. Working in Italy allows you to see and feel things from a different perspective; how the chefs work and how they use their ingredients, which are so fresh. The chefs were very passionate and really happy to pass on their knowledge and skills, and treated me like a member of their family.
Whilst I was at Locanda my pasta-making moved up a notch and my feel for Italian cuisine intensified. It is now my culinary home!
How will you bring these influences to Fox Valley?
I want my team to feel like they are in Locanda Del Falco in Piacenza. I want them to share this passion and love for food.
What is your Background?
I was 17 when I started working as a pizza chef in my home country, Romania. Straight away it felt right as a profession. I spent time in a Hungarian Kitchen and also worked in Calabria, Italy for a season.
What are your culinary influences?
Three stand out. Sorin Boneta; a well-known chef from Romania, who is a judge for Romanian MasterChef. Giorgio Locatelli; I shamelessly steal ideas about how he combines ingredients, using seasonal and local produce. And Gordon Ramsay; I like his cooking style and how he manages his businesses, front and back of house.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
I love to work with fresh, seasonal vegetables. I also feel totally at home making pizza and I have that new-found passion for making fresh pasta.
What excites you about the new restaurant?
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We’re bringing a real Italian kitchen to Fox Valley, offering a new style of cuisine. I’m excited about building a great team, meeting local people and spreading the word about our food at Ponti’s Italian Kitchen!