“Italian cuisine is about beautiful ingredients. It takes a really nice tomato to make a really nice tomato sauce. Italian food speaks for itself,” remarks Douglas Stassi. A graduate of the SAIT apprenticeship program, Chef Stassi began working in the kitchen at the age of twelve. “My love of cooking started in the industry. I was watching the guys chopping carrots and peeling potatoes and said ‘that looks way better than washing dishes’, so I would try doing it. It just kept escalating—making desserts and small salads and it’s never stopped.”
After working at several restaurants in Calgary, and travelling through Australia, Stassi headed to South Korea for a change of pace. There he worked with Executive Chef Paolo de Maria at Buona Sera, an upscale Italian restaurant in Korea. Stassi credits de Maria as one of his culinary mentors. “He’s the closest I have to actually going to Italy. He drilled into my head real Italian practices, real food and ingredients,” beams Chef Stassi.
The experience of working in Korea not only offered Stassi an education in a new cuisine but he also embraced the opportunity to teach as guest speaker at a cooking school and help Chef de Maria to write an Italian cookbook.
As Stassi speaks, memories of kopi tarik coffee in Singapore mix with stories of his grandfather’s (Nonno) pasta suppers and his inlaws lavish Korean dinner. It is evident that food has been at the centre of Stassi’s experiences.
This is an excerpt of an original article. For more about Douglas Stassi see the Summer 2009 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.