Blunt Inquiry - Rocco Agostino


Exec. Chef & Partner – The Libretto Restaurant Group


What is your idea of a perfect restaurant?
A loud, boisterous, fun environment with comforting food and lots of laughing.

What is your greatest fear at work?
Someone losing their fingertip – it’s happened to me.

Which working Chef do you most admire?
Chef Kris Schlotzhauer – this dude is really making a difference in the industry, and has stuck his neck out for his team; that’s something I really admire.

What part of work ‘you’ do you most deplore in yourself?
A potty mouth for sure (Don’t tell my wife!)

What would instantly make you fire someone?
Anyone who disrespects or threatens any member of my team is out the door.

What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
Our Pizza Ovens – shipping from Naples can get expensive….

What is your favourite food journey?
Every time I’m in Italy, I live for small family run shops in Rome and Naples, I always come home a few pounds heavier.

What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
I like to stay connected with my team, but “Touch Base” might be something I say a little too much…

What do you regret most after all your years in the business?
I have no regrets.  Everything has led me to where I am today.

What do you love most about this industry?
Making mouths happy including my own.

What is your current state of mind?
Pizza, Pasta, Pizza, Pasta, Pizza, Pasta- did I mention Pizza?

If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
Now more than ever with Toronto’s fast-growing food scene, I think it’s very important for new young talent to stay humble and know that you can never stop learning in this industry. 

What do you consider your most essential ingredient?
Flour, cheese and olive oil.

The work/life balance struggle is real.  How good of a juggler are you?  Tips?
It doesn’t feel like it’s a struggle when you enjoy what you do.  Surrounding yourself with people that understand your passion is important.

What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
Garlic Slicer, this is a tool that cannot be underestimated.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
86-ing basil.

When you finally retire, were will you live?
Somewhere warm – Costa Rica sounds good.

What is your most marked characteristic?
I always walk up to people, both FOH and BOH, and feed them spoonfuls of whatever I’m making or playing around with in the kitchen. 

What is the quality you most like in a chef?
The ability to think on your feet, innovation in problem solving is key.

What is your greatest inspiration/motivation?
My wonderful children #mightymia and #supersebastian, and the greatness that is Kara (my wife and rock). I can’t forget about the teams that make it all happen though, they inspire me everyday.

Superman or Spiderman?
Superman.

What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Cooking fresh pasta with my mother.

Beck or Clapton?
Clapton.

You have to cook Escoffier’s death row meal.  Menu?
Ha- easy! It would be a menu that spans the geography of Italy, from the south all the way to the north with my inspirational takes. – Or a death-by-lasagna meal, which is how I would want to go. 

Favourite kitchen word or phrase?
Yelling “Behind!!”  And then I giggle a little.

 

Pizza Libretto
A3 Napoli