In the Kitchen

Executive Order

Chef Giovanni Ricci takes over the kitchen at Venda Ravioli

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You’re new to Venda Ravioli. How did you start?
I began working as the Executive Chef here in April. It seems to be going well so far. Everyone is nice and I enjoy being able to be at home with my wife and kids at night – I have a two-year-old daughter and another baby on the way. It’s much different than the typical restaurant schedule that I used to follow; before I came to Venda I was the Executive Chef at The Fire in North Providence.

What’s the typical day like for you at Venda?
It’s a juggling act. I take care of the case (the prepared foods), catering orders and off-site parties. We do weddings, graduations, holiday parties, birthdays, political fundraisers, corporate events. Today I catered three off-site parties: a party for teachers at an elementary school, one at the Coca-Cola factory and another at Amica Insurance. Tomorrow I have another five or six to do. The days fly by.

Being a family man, is there anything you enjoy cooking at home?
My daughter and I love to make pizza together. Even though she’s only two, she really likes kneading and playing with the dough. I encourage it. To her, pizza dough is like one giant glob of Play-Doh.

Do you ever whip up any romantic meals for your wife?
Sure, although now with our daughter it’s not always that easy. I like to change it up for her and cook whatever I’m into at the time. Her favorite dish is my minestrone soup, which I make using the basics – celery, onions, tomato – although she also loves my beef stew.

What’s the deal with the Venda meat blend? People love that stuff.
It’s a mix of ground pork, beef and veal. It’s very good and very popular. I bring it home once a week to make my Sunday gravy.

What do you bring to the table – literally – when invited to a potluck dinner party?
People always ask me to bring my homemade pork sausage. I use pork cushion meat but its appeal is in the preparation. My secret is that I grind it, season it and then regrind it with the seasoning. When the meat is chopped along with the spices, the flavor is much more enhanced.

Have you ever taken a food vacation?
No, but it’s on my list of things to do. Last week I catered an event in Fall River and ended up talking with a guy who told me about the nearby Portuguese restaurants Anthony Bordain featured on his show, No Reservations. On my ride back to Providence, I stopped at some of the spots he mentioned and brought food home. That was my version of a food vacation – a local food vacation.

Describe your cooking philosophy in three words.
Fresh, seasonal and flavorful.