Five Things you didn’t know about Salvatore Cuomo
posted by Stephanie in Indulgences
In my time as a journalist, I find that more often than not, the more public or popular the persona, the more difficult it is to get real answers. Not necessarily because they are hiding something but most of the time it’s because they are used to the same kind of questions or have a spiel ready at hand. It’s always refreshing to meet the ones who are very candid and frank, willing to answer any questions with unabashed honesty. After a splendid dinner at Salvatore XEX Atago, I managed to have a nice long chat over a couple of cigars with the Italian-Japanese celebrity chef Salvatore Cuomo. He recounted the story of his vagabond father travelling from Naples to Central America then ending up in Japan, having a love affair with his mother who then followed him back to Naples with “extra baggage” where she then settled and they founded their family beginning with Salvatore. His Neapolitan childhood has made an immense mark on the chef who has been living most of his adult life in Japan. With a thick accent and signature multo italiano intonation, he is as italian as can be. I can only suppose that it is perhaps due to the fact that being half italian was the defining, differentiating factor in Japan, becoming the basis for an enterprise built on promoting italian cuisine and culture in Asia. For someone who is surrounded by the best libations the world has to offer (the wine cellar of the restaurant was simply mind blowing!) I had to ask what his favorite poison was. A loaded question that can be very revelatory about people and what they like to indulge in. Cuomo answered with extreme frankness that he “stopped drinking some time ago. I used to drink two bottles of vodka a day,” he admits, settling back down in the armchair with a brief but distinct, distasteful sigh. Then he leans over and with a mischievous sparkle, claims, “But I won’t say no to a really good Petrus or Romanee-Conti. I may not always like the French, but I love their wine!” And there you have it, the end of the world as we know it. An Italian admitting he prefers French wine. But this is what I loved the most about Cuomo, he is incredibly authentic, just like his pizza.
Love and Light, Stephanie
Salvatore Cuomo Restaurant and Bar will be opening its first branch in Manila at the end of the year
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Salvatore Cuomo
“I’ve been married five times. I am not ashamed to say it!” says the father of nine, 42 year old chef candidly over a cigar about his Elizabeth Taylor-esque love life. “But I think this one is truly the one!” he speaks of his Eurasian wife Pia Schallenberger. “She understands my world. She also cooks great things for me at home. Simple and never trying too hard but always good.”
At home Salvatore likes to eat simple food. “I like easy things, grilled fish and meat, some vegetables. Good olive oil.”
But if he were truly to indulge himself “I really love caviar, with nothing, eaten with a spoon.”
His favorite pizza is the Marinara, without even a smidgen of cheese. “That’s the original, that’s what I grew up eating” says the chef. “Before people used to buy it in the streets and it would be folded up and wrapped in newspaper and you would eat it on the go.”
For the gregarious chef constantly surrounded by the finer things in life, I couldn’t help but ask what were his vices. “My vice?” he says with a smile “it would have to be my children. Especially these two youngest ones. I haven’t always been the best father, it hasn’t always been easy with my other children but I feel with these two I am making up for it.”
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.