Thalias Hospitality

Executive Chef Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano
Executive Chef Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano

Meet Chef Pino, the Kitchen Maestro at Siena

True passion has driven Siena’s Executive Chef, Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano from his home in Southern Italy to work in award-winning and Michelin-starred restaurants in the north and south of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, New York, Bangkok and now Phnom Penh.

Executive Chef Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano
Executive Chef Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano

With Siena at Flatiron opening soon, last month we gave a brief insight into the often under-appreciated breadth and variety of Italian Cuisine. This month we’re getting personal, and sat down with Siena’s Executive Chef, Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano, the man who will be bringing you all the rich, wonderful flavours of his homeland. And he’s very passionate about his mission.

That passion has driven a 40-year career that has taken him from his home in Southern Italy to work in award-winning and Michelin-starred restaurants in the north and south of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, New York, Bangkok and now Phnom Penh. His experience has seen him perfect his skills in Italian, French and International cooking styles, but it is the food of Italy that makes Pino’s eyes light up, and you’ll soon be able to taste exactly why that is so.

We were lucky to be able to get him to sit down in fact. Chef Pino’s quest to source and secure the best ingredients possible for the Siena menu has been absorbing an awful lot of his time. But the rewards for this will be abundantly clear. For example, your Risotto will not just be made from the popular arborio rice, but from Riso Carnaroli, the caviar of risotto rices that is highly prized for the dense, creamy risotto it creates. Chef Pino has married this ambrosia with Siena’s house Sausage, Pumpkin, Marinated Herbs, Chestnuts and Black Garlic, and that is just a hint of the divine glories that he has been cooking up, and of how Siena will be a little bit different from Italian restaurants you may have visited before.

MicrosoftTeams-image 76
Executive Chef Giuseppe “Pino” Napoletano

“I want to start showing people what Italian cuisine really is. I mean, it’s a subject as vast as French cuisine with very different regions, ingredients and cooking methods all across the country”, he says, adding, “but even though we’re close to France, it’s very different from French cooking. You almost never see cream in Italian cooking, for example, and butter only really in the North”.

Chef Pino may be only one man, but his broad experience brings a lot of range to the table, covering the top and bottom of Italy, but also combining a commitment to traditional principles with an appreciation for the advantages of modern technology. And he’s not to afraid to experiment with the million combinations these sources of knowledge, flavour and technique offer.

“For my cooking style, I take a little bit of the north and a little bit of the south, and sometimes I mix them up. But I like to experiment with techniques too.”

To take one example, for Siena’s Spaghetti di Gragnano alle Vongole, he marries a courgette cream (not dairy cream!) with sun-dried tomatoes to create a rich, sweet earthiness that goes perfectly with the seafood flavours of the clams. Moreover, his selection of Spaghetti di Gragnano elevates the dish even further. Gragnano is a small, hillside town overlooking the Gulf of Naples and is known for producing the best dried pastas in Italy, a reputation that is acknowledged with a Protected Geographical Indication by the European Union. Gragnano pastas are celebrated for their chewier texture as well as nuttier flavour which is influenced by the Marino wind blowing in from the Gulf to enrich drying pastas with sea minerals. Another moment of Siena synchronicity.

While Chef Pino is also a traditionalist (we do not recommend telling him if you’re one of the millions of people in the world who make their Spaghetti Carbonara with cream. It makes him grieve), he also loves digging into the essences of the flavours he’s engaging with in order to find their perfect partners, and sometimes that can mean stepping outside of the rules.

317491676 931865614450716 9162680573866172276 n

One of his tricks is to briefly add a little star anise to his slow-cooked tomato sauces because he has discovered that they share some of the same chemical compounds, and so complement each other perfectly. “It works for chocolate and roasted garlic too!” he adds (in anticipation of your raised eyebrows here, we checked this out and it’s absolutely true, chocolate and garlic do share compounds, and indeed garlic chocolate truffles are a thing…).

This is just a glimpse of the exciting things that Chef Pino is cooking up in his kitchen. There’ll be more to come. Meanwhile, we’re working hard to get Siena ready to open its doors, and Pino continues his unflagging quest to find you the very best ingredients and flavours that Italy has to offer.

Facebook Comments

You May Also Like

Oh such Marvelous Merveilles! ~ Mardi Gras

Get your hands on some traditional French Bugnes, Merveilles and Oreillettes this February 21, and if you’re not sure what those are keep reading, because you’re not going to want to miss this. To mark the beginning of the Christian Lent, a period of abstinence during which adherents traditionally fast for forty days, a practice of clearing out the larder in preparation gave rise to a tradition that holds to this day in all Christian cultures: of eating confections primarily composed of cupboard staples — flour, eggs, milk and sugar — that needed to be eaten up before the fast…

Valentine’s Day ~ Love Bites…

As many as half of all couples are planning to do something special this Valentine’s Day. Most of them are going out for a romantic dinner (don’t forget to book your table at Topaz, Malis or Khéma now, before they fill up), but almost as many will give their loved one a gift of chocolates as an emblem of whatever emotions underpin their bond, be it fresh young love, or hard-earned affection, companionship, understanding, compassion and tenderness. Chocolate’s relationship with love and ritual goes all the way back to mankind’s first discovery of this delicious bean. Chocolate comes from cocoa…

Cambodia Restaurant Association — Amplifying Industry Strength

It’s a basic fact of life that strength comes through numbers. Which is why the Cambodia Restaurant Association (CRA) is so important for advancing the interests of everyone invested in the Kingdom’s relentlessly dynamic hospitality industry, whether they are in it financially, professionally, or both. The CRA was created 12 years ago with the aim of developing Cambodia’s restaurant industry for the benefit of all. That means ensuring that all Association members have the capacity to grow and achieve their full potential because when they do, they raise everyone’s standards, reputations, and appeal to audiences both at home and abroad.…

Primed for Prahok

The prime season for harvesting the fishes used for making Cambodia’s emblematic fermented fish Prahok has just passed, which means that now is the best time to tuck into one of the nation’s favourite dishes: Prahok Ktis, a rich, earthy combination of ground pork, crisp vegetables, tangy kroeung, sweet coconut milk and umami-packed Prahok, this is an excellent meal for any time of day, and an absolute must for anyone who is wavering about how to take their first step into the pungent world of Prahok. But if, on arriving in Cambodia, you concluded that Prahok is a strange and…

Spoons Out! It’s Mont d’Or Season…

Mont d’Or is revered in France almost like no other cheese is, and there’s a good reason why that is! While many consider the Christmas Celebration season an excellent reason to be jolly, there’s certainly no need to feel glum now that it’s over for another year. That’s because there’s another season going on which, we think, is guaranteed to have the cheese-lovers of this world singing joyously as they grab their spoons for a scoop of the gloriously luscious cheese, Mont d’Or. What is Mont d’Or? Well, for starters it’s revered in France almost like no other cheese is,…

Onwards and Upwards to the Year Ahead

Developing Asia Economies Set to Grow 5.2% this Year Amid Global Uncertainty The beginning of this year already feels like it happened a decade ago. Cambodia had just reopened its doors to tourism and the world was gradually moving over to a policy of “living with Covid”. No one really knew what the future held, but there was tentative optimism. What choice did we have after all? But Cambodia’s experience over 2022 has at least borne some of that optimism out. And it looks as though we have ground for even further optimism going into 2023. This December, the World…