Q&A with Salvatore Rizzo, Owner of De Gustibus Cooking School by Miele

I had the joy of attending a class at NYC’s DeGustibus Cooking School by Miele (inside of Macys, but unaffiliated) a few years back. The Chef was Daniel Rose of Spring in France – the highly acclaimed French restaurant in Paris. I was captivated by Daniel instantly. His story, his success and food were all untraditonal and wildly inspiring. I was star struck a bit – he just had that presence. His talent was truly humbling.  And in the two or so hours that I spent at De Gustibus, I felt like I got more than had I dined at Spring ten times. In the end, I owe that experience to De Gustibus and its owner, Salvatore Rizzo, former Director of the Italian Culinary Institute and James Beard House. His vision and love for everything culinary helped mold my experience at De Gustibus and love affair with food.

Here’s a brief Q&A with Sal:

Q. You were absolutely cut out to do this! Your passion is very inspiring. This industry is very competitive, but you’ve created tremendous success. What sets De Gustibus apart from other cooking schools?

A. Thank you, that means so much coming from you. Our classes are unique learning opportunities.  Guests get to watch a renowned chef demonstrate dishes on stage, but I’ve added personal touches so they feel like they’re dining in my home. Guests garner a personal relationship with the chef over great conversation, learning and enjoy the delicious cuisine while interacting with fellow foodies. The chef portraits that line the walls showcase our longevity and reputation in the industry. With classes that began in 1980, you see photos of the greats up there, when they were just starting out – Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, David Bouley to TV heavyweights like Rachael Ray and Anthony Bourdain; De Gustibus has been part of the evolution of the food industry. Home cooks and foodies have the opportunity to speak with and meet renowned and up-and-coming chefs in person in a very unique setting. The chefs have the chance to showcase their cuisine, talk food trends and techniques, and teach a very discerning audience of food lovers.

Q. What do you hope people leave with after a class at De Gustibus? 

A. A huge smile. Nothing makes me happier than when our guests leave with a smile – excited as they leave a wonderful evening with new knowledge and skills for their home kitchens. De Gustibus is all-encompassing in that it allows attendees to learn new and interesting techniques while tasting ingredients and wines they typically wouldn’t experience at home. Nothing gives me greater joy then to see all of this unfold each night we host a class.

Q. You have had almost every top chef grace that stage – why do you think they love De Gustibus so much? 

A. A lot of the chefs we work with are renowned and established or just starting to make a name for themselves in the food world. I think chefs enjoy teaching food and wine enthusiasts who are passionate about learning their techniques and cuisine, while tasting their food. I especially love to see when chefs return to the school and they see their photo, from their first class, hanging proudly on the wall. They talk about their journey and it is joyous and so humbling for me. Chefs love the wonderful challenge that comes with being excellent teachers and showing a group how to recreate masterful dishes at home. It is not an easy thing to do, but many face the challenge and are so proud they accomplished something that they never thought they were able to do.

Q&A with Salvatore Rizzo, Owner of De Gustibus Cooking School by Miele

Q. You are featuring some pretty exciting chefs coming up. Was there a specific theme this Spring?

A. The theme is called Infinite Possibilities and came about after seeing this very diverse roster of chefs. Our guest’s, as home cooks, truly have infinite possibilities to create anything they want. This season empowers them to diversify their knowledge and talents across cuisine, cooking styles, wines and more; featuring renowned chefs and sommeliers to up-and-comers from all different backgrounds.

Q. As an industry leader, what are some of the food trends you see coming up?

A. A lot of restaurants are trying to serve extended menus and create additional offerings to build a truly unique experience for patrons which I really love. Also top restaurateurs are going back to creating more affordable options, but not compromising on creativity or delicious cuisine. A great example of this is April Bloomfield and her newest eatery Salvation Burger, a must-visit.

Q. Of course I have to ask – what are your top three favorite go-to NY restaurants?

A. This is like asking someone who their favorite children are! A really hard one for me, as my husband and I favor quite a few and it really does depend on the type of cuisine. I eat out a lot and I try to support the chefs that are coming to the school, but off the top of my head I would say:

  • Legend on 7th Avenue in Chelsea for their Cumin Lamb
  • L’Artusi in the West Village for their Pasta with Mushroom Ragu
  • Tanoreen for their Mezze
  • Perry Street for their Rice Encrusted Tuna with Sriracha
  • Sushi Nakazawa for Sublime Sushi

If you love food, this is a must-do evening! You can find the Spring schedule of events here.