Family traditions in the kitchen define chef Giacomo Pasquini's passion for cooking. Memories of sharing simple yet flavourful family recipes with both of his grandmothers have inspired and shaped Pasquini's culinary skills which he masterfully applies as chef at Vertical Restaurant. I had the pleasure of first meeting Giacomo Pasquini at Feast of Fields where he prepared a delicious, homemade, red fife strozzapretti pasta in a venison corn ragu topped with venison loin.
As a native of Italy's Le Marche region, Pasquini says that "there's a bad rap for food in North America," yet Canada has an abundance of quality ingredients with which one can easily prepare a healthy, flavourful meal. He kindly took the time to show me how it's done in his kitchen at Vertical Restaurant in Toronto's First Canadian Place. One can sample Pasquini's delectable dishes with true Italian flavour using the freshest local ingredients available on a daily basis. True Italian flavour means more than food to Giacomo, it's about connecting; connecting with the ingredients and where they come from. This strong belief of Giacomo's is quite evident in the many outstanding dishes he prepares at Vertical including Warm Acorn Squash salad with speck and dandelion, Pappardelle in a slow roasted wild boar ragu, as well as his traditional Piadina of Le Marche region. It's about making the connection between the history of food and how it's prepared throughout the entire country from the North to the South of Italy. But it's mostly connecting with people. Food has always had a social aspect to it. On this note, Pasquini explains that one of his favourite times to "share" in the food making experience is during the annual homemade "passata" event which takes place at the restuarant's spacious rooftop patio surrounded by business towers. Giacomo and his culinary team look forward to this event as a way of connecting with one another. "We all get together surrounded by bushels and bushels of plum tomatoes making sauce, laughing and learning like our families have done for centuries". The love of food therefore goes beyond the kitchen with Giacomo!