Meet Alessandro Cozzolino: The Top Chef Bringing Italian Cuisine to Hong Kong
Chef Alessandro Cozzolino got his start in the kitchen cooking alongside his mother and grandmother in Italy before working with Michelin-starred chefs. He was appointed Chef de Cuisine at Grissini restaurant at the prestigious Grand Hyatt Hong Kong at just 25 years old, bringing his vision to guests and captivating their senses with a truly unforgettable meal. Experience Chef Alessandro's journey from Italy to Hong Kong, and you might even discover a few of his culinary secrets along the way.
How did you get your start in cooking? I started cooking when I was living with my mom and grandmother. They taught me every skill they had, especially making pasta. It was then that I discovered my own passion for cooking and wanted to share it with other people. To me, cooking is about bringing people together to savor the comforting flavors of home.
What does travel mean to you? How does it inspire your cooking? Traveling to me is everything. I love discovering new places and learning about different cultures. I try to take bits and pieces from my travel experiences and incorporate them into my daily life. In terms of taste, travel has enriched my knowledge by allowing me to discover new cooking combinations, flavors and consistencies by trying different cuisines.
What made you decide to take the opportunity to move to Hong Kong and become the Chef de Cuisine at Grissini? It is all about opportunity. I first visited Hong Kong when I was 21 years old. Four years later, I got an offer from Grand Hyatt Hong Kong as a Chef de Cuisine at Grissini. I decided to accept the offer because it would broaden my horizons, expand my knowledge and bring my cooking philosophy to Hong Kong diners. I hope that whenever guests dine at Grissini, they feel as if they are in Italy.
What is your favorite food or cuisine that you have tried since living in Hong Kong? Dim sum has always been my favorite food in Hong Kong. I can eat plenty of dim sum in one go. It is hard to describe why, but the experience of eating dim sum is always as enjoyable as the flavor.
What is your favorite Italian dish to cook?
Spaghetti al Pomodoro, even though it is one of the most difficult pasta dishes to make. The recipe sounds easy enough, but it definitely requires a certain amount of skill.
You were recently awarded ‘Chef of the Year’ by Gambero Rosso. What does it mean to you to receive this honor?
It was an honor and I am very happy to have received this award. This is a huge acknowledgement by the most prestigious Italian dining guide. With this recognition, my team and I will continue to bring authentic Italian cuisine to diners.
When you visit a new place, how do you go about experiencing the food scene? Before arriving, I will look up the restaurant online to get to know more about the dishes and concept, so when I am there I can experience the chef’s vision through the flavor of food and the vibe in the restaurant.
What do you like to do in Hong Kong in your free time? Like all chefs, I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I have a day off, I enjoy spending it with my friends. I am a totally different person outside of the kitchen, much more fun and outgoing. What do you always pack in your carry-on bag when you travel? My culinary passion, my curiosity and my positive energy. Discover more places to see, visit and eat in Hong Kong in our exclusive travel guide.