Chef Peter Deruvo of Cuoco Pazzo

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Cuoco Pazzo may translate to "crazy chef," but the only crazy thing we noticed about Chef Peter Deruvo are his crazy humility and true passion for providing his guests with great food.  

We sat down with Chef Deruvo in this week's Chef Chat to hear how he's handling his two newest responsibilities in the new year: his first restaurant, and his third child.

Over the past two years, Deruvo's had his hands in a variety of projects and restaurants, in all of which he's used his experiences working and training in places such as Italy and California to refine the unique concept he's brought to life in Cuoco Pazzo. Most recently the former chef de cuisine at the InterContinental Montelucia's Prado, Deruvo's no stranger to old fashioned Italian cooking--but this time he's not playing by anyone else's rules.

As he puts it,"Your Italian is different from my Italian, which is different from that Italian. [This is] regional Italian cuisine made in my style. So I give you my mother, but I also give you my grandmother and generations prior to that. It's not about me; it's about us. It's about all of us together, collectively creating a good dining experience. Leave the expectations behind because the only thing that gets you in trouble is expectations."

Get to know Deruvo, after the jump!

Have you found that people are surprised by what you're doing here at Cuoco Pazzo?

No, because true Italian is a conglomerate of what everyone's learned from their grandmother pretty much. It's all about trade. Rome and Venice and Sicily, they've all been conquered so a lot of the stuff that was brought into the [area] on the trade routes was obviously an influence on their cooking. So why wouldn't you utilize it to your utmost availability? So yeah, farm to table? I can do that. But I don't pay outrageous prices for food.

I don't pay outrageous prices for tomatoes. Tomatoes aren't typically in season so the stuff that I do get in, I use a little more savvy [way] when it comes to pairing it with mozzarella cheese. It's kinda the quintessential thing but it's really not even cheese; it's curd that's been boiled down with salt, reformed and then lopped out. And the term "mozzare" really means to lop off. Italians are very wordy. If Italians say "polenta," polenta means the action. And the same thing goes for certain pastas. Orecchiette literally means...little ear. Why would you call a pasta little ear? It was grandmothers and mothers that had nothing else to do except create good meals and out that forth with bare minimum ingredients. Orecchiette pasta is just semolina, water, salt and flour.

So [at Cuoco Pazzo] you have a lot of technique within an old school style, and then you have a new school style of me... It's a conglomeration; there's no such thing as Italian food. There's such thing as making Italian food in a certain aspect.

How was the experience working at Prado?

I made that place what it was. I was there for nine, ten months but I mean all the hype behind everything...we had best charcuterie, best upscale Italian restaurant... and everyone's going to say it's a beautiful hotel and the thought process I had on the food while I was there was awesome...but here I am.

Tomorrow we'll have more from Chef Deruvo including his take on the Italian food staple: the tomato.

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