What do you get when you take a New York native with Italian roots and a last name like Casanova? I don’t know…stop asking us so many questions!
What we do know is that this Casanova (that’s Vic, to you) has essentially turned the Italian food world in Los Angeles upside down, starting with the opening of Culina at the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills in 2010, and the award-winning Gusto shortly after. Casanova, who trained with such industry greats as Daniel Boulud, Scott Conant, and Cesare Casella, is back at it again with his latest restaurant, Pistola. We got the chance to ask chef Casanova our nine essential questions, and guess what? He answered them. We’re that good.
1. What’s an underrated food city and why?
Los Angeles. I feel like for a very long time it’s been just about New York, San Francisco and Chicago. I’m from New York and I have lived all over the country since, so I know what it’s like. Los Angeles is without a doubt a top tier and highly motivated food city with some of the best Chef’s in the country and the foodies to back it up.
2. What food/food trend are you tired of?
The word “organic” has become a cheap marketing ploy with little to no meaning. I get the original intention but things have gone a bit too far. It’s become simply a way to justify charging double. I believe everyone should have access to great vegetables. It’s more expensive to buy enough vegetables for dinner than McDonald’s for the family. That’s not cool and it needs to change.
3. How do you feel about Yelp?
I have mixed feelings because the restaurant doesn’t have a choice whether it wants to even be listed on the site. Furthermore Yelp gives anyone the voice of a critic. That’s a lot of power. I’ve seen numerous situations where a guest has said, “If you don’t do this I will give you a negative Yelp review.” I understand that the average consumer’s voice should be heard, but I believe there needs to be some kind of checks and balances.
4. If your kitchen is burning down, what’s the one gadget you save?
Probably the Vita-Prep Blender.
5. Your guilty pleasure food?
6. If you could cook for one person—who would it be?
Man… I’ve been really lucky in that I have actually cooked for just about anybody one would want to get a chance to cook for. Off the top of my head I’ve cooked for Derek Jeter, Al Pacino, Thomas Keller, Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone, Sidney Poitier, Rob Reiner, President Obama, Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Nas, Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell and even Halle Berry. So I guess probably Jay Z.
7. What are five ingredients that are always in your pantry?
Crushed Calabrian chili, champagne vinegar, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and Dijon mustard
8. What’s the one mistake most amateur chefs make?
Too many ingredients.
9. What’s the best advice you ever received?
Never give up.
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