I want to thank Chef John DiGiovanni for taking time to answer the below questions as part of our ongoing Chef Profile series. I found Chef DiGiovanni’s answers to be interesting and educational for other chefs. Please take time to read this post and forward it to others who would be interested.
What Motivated You To Become A Chef?
Becoming a Chef gave me an opportunity to obtain a set of skills I could use for the rest of my life. To be able to go anywhere in the world and be able to find a job; To learn something new everyday, even if I thought I knew a lot about something; To realize I actually knew very little about it.
What achievement are you most proud of from your time as a chef?
The achievement I am most proud of is not my own. Wade Smith, one of my culinary supervisors, accepted a Sous Chef position at Sequoia National Park. I am proud to have been part of his career advancement.
How is the role of the chef changing?
A chef is more than just a leader in the kitchen. A chef is involved more in the community , donating their time and talents to others as well as reaping the benefits of exposure.
What do you think will be the major issues chefs face over the next 20 years?
Rising food prices. Chefs will be challenged to spin the straw into gold.
What are you looking forward to this year as a Delaware North chef?
Continuing to produce better food than we did last year and to further my personal and my teammates’ goals in the kitchen.
What do you believe is the most controversial topic in the culinary world?
I think the Modernist Cuisine/Molecular Gastronomy movement would be considered the most controversial as it is often misunderstood and only a very small portion of chefs are knowledgeable in it. Sous Vide cooking created the most interest at the ACF Regional Conference I attended. Both Chefs and Cooks want to drive the Modernist cuisine Ferrari yet ignore the basic fundamental all cuisines are built upon. Some chefs feel that it is only a fad and will die out in time.
History always seems to repeat itself. I imagine how those who first began using tomatoes in cooking felt when they heard others talk about them as poisonous. I believe these products and techniques will be woven into our culinary fabric.
Were there any personal or professional obstacles that almost prevented you from becoming a chef?
I was unsure what I wanted to do out of high school and enlisted to become a mechanic in the Marine Corps. Right before I was to leave for bootcamp, I found my love of cooking and went through many obstacles to nullify my enlistment and continue my education at Walt Disney World, where I was working at the time.
What is the most important piece of advice you could offer someone just setting out to culinary school?
What you learn in the beginning of culinary school are the habits, discipline and techniques that will become the foundation of your career. Pay particular attention to your knife skills. In addition to schooling, working alongside the best Chefs in your community will give you an advantage over those you are graduating with. You get out of this industry what you put in it. Never stop learning.