Loose Talk with Giorgio Rapicavoli and Gio Gutierrez
Reader’s discretion advised.
In an attempt to try new things and with the help of Gio Gutierrez from Chat Chow TV, we thought we would get to know not only THE CHEF Giorgio Rapicavoli but also THE MAN Giorgio Rapicavoli. We don’t know what kind of badass bromance these two have, but Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction came to mind—without the blood-drenching bit, of course.
Tight-lipped at times, Rapicavoli’s sense of “realness and rawness”, as Gio put it, really came through to us, as well as his intense fear and loathing of yellow mustard and his fascination for bacon, Nutella and sesame oil.
He is an amusing character that doesn’t care to be politically correct and guess what? If you don’t like his food, that’s fine. He has no need to justify what he puts out on dishes.
Yes Hungries, it’s that good – no need for an introduction or explanation although he’d gladly give you one to take the edge off your curiosity.
Piously dedicated to cooking what he loves, at the young age of 27, Rapicavoli is ingeniously enlivening Miami with his food. He makes food that doesn’t make sense, make sense, if that makes sense…
Inspiration comes in the strangest of ways and that’s the case when he creates his menu for Eating House. When asked what inspires him, Rapicavoli expanded:
“Everything, there is nothing I love more than putting myself in situations with people that I think do their job better. I love eating at amazing fucking restaurants – Alinea, Atera. What more could you ask for? That’s what I see as my tuition- eating at these places – I never really did too much school, I never really cared for it – but I can remember every meal I have ever had at every great restaurant and that’s what I love – seeing what all these chefs can do, letting me interpret their flavors, dish, style, or their technique evolving into something I can relate to.”
He added that he likes to take, “a classic dish from a culture and incorporate flavors that aren’t necessarily traditional.” Miami, as he puts it , is a “big clusterfuck of cultures” and you can see and taste that in his food. Whatever he wants to do on any given day, he does. Gio adds that Rapicavoli is big on reinventing. Hence, he likes change and gets bored easily.
Speaking of this “clusterfuck of cultures”, we asked Rapicavoli how he felt about Miami’s food scene “Good, it’s starting to grow.” Gio personally loves, “the camaraderie between chefs – it didn’t exist before.” We agree with Rapicavoli when he pointed out that there are still those “snooty” restaurants in Miami that you don’t want to spend your money on and that’s what they have to work against. He says, “We aren’t going anywhere if we don’t rebel.”
Nonconforming at Eating House is working splendidly for him. People keep coming back for the staples— “their carbonara, their tomatoes, chicken or they can get a crazy ass foie gras dish.” He admits he learned very quickly where you stop becoming a chef and start becoming a businessman. “I’m up to my fucking ears with Brussels sprouts. But they sell, every table orders them. And if having the Brussels sprouts allows me to have fun with everything else than that’s okay.”
When he does decide to leave his kitchen, Rapicavoli ventures to Yakko-San, Pubbelly, Xion, and Macchialina. But the best meal of his life has been at McCrady’s in Charleston, an 18-course meal to celebrate his Chopped win.
Becoming Miami’s first winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped” and recently being listed in Forbes’ 30 under 30, he believes his biggest accomplishment was opening the doors of Eating House. He says, “No financial backing, it [was] just us, our heart and soul in here, I love this place. I do what I want – it’s fucking awesome.”
Throughout our chat, Rapicavoli emphasized that he ALWAYS wanted to be a chef. He never wanted to be anything else. And you can see that. Probably one of our favorite things about talking with him was his frank response when asked about his biggest struggle.
He gave it to us like it is:
“Struggles? I think I have a pretty fucking awesome life. I come into work whenever I want – I don’t have a boss, I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, I cook whatever I want, I play whatever I want . Hell no, I have nothing to complain about. “
“I always knew I was going to be my own boss. I never wanted to work for anyone. I never wanted to go to Europe and work under anybody fancy because I never wanted to cook like anybody. I never wanted to think like anyone else, I never wanted to have another chef’s mentality. I just wanted to cook my way and do my food all the time. “
“High school—I didn’t give a fuck, I wanted to be a cook. I graduated with a 2.0, went to culinary school for free, was on [the] dean’s list, summa cum laude– hated that shit too because it was too easy, so I dropped out of school. I went to work at Chispas for 4 years, I became the chef de cuisine when I was 21.”
“And I was never not a chef after that, the last time I was a line cook I must have been 18 years old.”
His advice to those that look up to him:
“Do your own thing; be confident in yourself and what you can provide, be confident in your ability. You are only going to grow. You have to be your number one supporter. And if you are not out there to be the best chef in the world then you aren’t doing it right.”
“All those restaurants that are up there, in the top 10 in the world, lose money and unfortunately, I’m not in the position to lose someone else’s money. Every cent that gets spent here is my partners’ and mine. And we can’t afford to do that. So then again, it becomes about being the chef you want to be and [about] being a businessman. Learning a successful business that is profitable – “
“You have a staff – you have to feed people and they have to feed their families. It’s not just you anymore. It’s about everyone that is around; you have to make sure that everyone is happy and comfortable – because if you give your staff a work environment where they are happy and enjoy themselves, it’s going to shine through, it’s going to go into the service [and] people notice those things. They don’t give a shit about eating on old tables or if the knives cost 50 cents. They don’t give a shit about that. They care about a great atmosphere and an interesting and fun meal that they might not be able to get anywhere else.”
One more thing Hungries, don’t forget to check out Eating House’s Wakin’ and Bacon Brunch.
Oh, and for the month of April, for those that are interested, Rapicavoli will be doing a 420 dinner with $42 menu and $4.20 drinks special. (Cheech & Chong will naturally be projected on the screen.)