Fabio Flagiello, exec chef-owner of PastaVino, on organs
This is part one of my interview with Fabio Flagiello, exec-chef owner of PastaVino. Part two of my chat with the Boulder chef will run in this space tomorrow.
"There's something about the life of a chef and restaurant owner that's really pleasurable, and there's something magical about the pleasure of feeding people. Food brings happiness," says Fabio Flagiello, chef-owner of PastaVino, an Italian restaurant that opened earlier this year on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall.
And the combination of food -- and feeding people -- has been front and center for Flagiello ever since he was a kid growing up in Italy. "Food is always a big deal in Italy, and it was a very, very big deal in my house," recalls Flagiello. "My mom would make gnocchi and fresh pasta every Sunday, then we'd go to church, stop at the pastry shop on the way home, and the big family meal would be ready as soon as we walked inside the house."
His mother's cooking impressed him, but it was flipping through a culinary magazine and seeing a chef in full whites that set the wheels in motion for a cooking career. "I was nine when I saw that photo and told my mom I wanted to be a chef, and I don't remember now if it was the chef or the roast beef he was cutting that inspired me, but by the time I was fourteen, I was going to culinary school," he recalls.
He graduated at sixteen, and his first real job, which he got by pure chance, was as a garde manger at what was then the most prestigious hotel in Venice: Hotel Danieli. "I had interviewed for a different job, which I got, but something happened -- I can't recall what, exactly -- but the chef asked if I wanted to work in Venice instead, and I had no idea at the time where it was, and when I found out, my jaw dropped to the floor," recollects Flagiello, adding that when word spread, his friends were "speechless."
After four years of being the envy of chefs all over Italy, Flagiello left to travel -- and cook -- around the globe, beginning in France. "I wanted to learn French and English by the time I was 25, and I wanted to see what else the world could offer," he says. He went back to culinary school in Paris and staged in several restaurants before becoming the corporate chef for an Italian company called Pasta Vino, which is no relation to his Boulder restaurant. He eventually left Paris -- but not the company -- and moved to Boston, where he opened the company's first Pasta Vino in the States.