From Europe to Asia Pacific-A A +A
Sunday, March 2, 2014
FOR over 30 years Stefano Verrillo has traveled the world experiencing the different cuisines it has to offer. From the classic Mediterranean tastes instilled by his Italian parents, to the cosmopolitan fusions of Australia, to the oriental flavors of Asia—he has gained an extensive understanding of it all, prompting him to sew four flags on his uniform: of Italy, Switzerland, Australia and the Philippines, the nations whose flavors he is most acquainted to.
As newly appointed executive chef of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, his knowledge in international fares is what he ‘brings to the table’ in overseeing the hotel’s four dining outlets. He said, “My culture is very Italian. I follow my mother’s taste in cooking, my uncle’s pizza, but over the years it has changed. I adapt to the environment, to the culture and to the ingredients available.”
“I like to combine Asian and Western flavors,” he described, “But I’m not fusion, I don’t put 20 different flavors in one plate. (In terms of taste) I’m straightforward.”
Raised in Switzerland by Italian parents, Stefano started cooking during his teenage years as a way to earn extra money. He eventually started taking classes, and fast forward years later, has become renowned for what he does. He has worked in top international hotels around the world, has prepared for political dignitaries and has been featured in several cooking shows.
Aside from the four mentioned, Stefano has lived in Seychelles, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where he was the youngest to be appointed as executive chef for a Sheraton property. In 2004 he moved to the Philippines as part of the opening team of the old Hilton Cebu, and was with Crimson Resort & Spa before assuming his current post.
Other than finding his niche in the local culinary scene, Stefano has also built his home here, with his Filipina wife and their two kids, on some occasions cooking for them his own take of Filipino classics such as pansit.
Far more than Stefano’s expertise in international cuisines, the ingredient that has made him a renowned and talented chef is his passion—his passion as he talks about the distinct flavor of authentic tartufo (truffle), of the exquisiteness of homemade linguini, and of how he wants to make these gourmet fares more accessible to his guests.
“It’s a challenge,” he said. “I have my personal attitude to food, my personal understanding—it’s all personal, but I also have to share it with others. If I want to do something of my own, then I’ll be very selfish—and these days, that’s not how we do it.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2014.