Joe Pasqualetto; chef at Rucola
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I always spent a lot of time with my grandparents. My grandfather was always in his workshop building or fixing something while my grandmother spent most of her time cooking in the kitchen or out in the garden. Every now and again the plectron would go off and my grandfather would race off to go fight a fire. Me, my grandmother, and a tray of baked ziti were right behind him. After the fire was out we would all meet at the firehouse for a big feast. So I guess the first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a firefighter. I think that tray of baked ziti might of had something to do with it.
What was your path to being a chef?
I’ve always really enjoyed cooking. After school I found myself watching cooking shows instead of cartoons. Long before the food network we had PBS. Yan Can Cook. Julia Child. A few years later in life I came across a show call Great Chefs. This wasn’t a show teaching people how to cook at home, it was a show that featured chefs out in the industry around the world. When I was 16, I got my first cooking job, and I still, twenty years later, watch old episodes of Great Chefs on YouTube.
Do you like your job?
I love my job. 4 years ago, when I was working at GILT in the NY Palace hotel, I was looking to open a place in Brooklyn. I didn’t want to take the chef job at a restaurant that was already open. I wanted to create a place where young inspired cooks could create food without the fear of getting yelled at. 100% collaborative. 100% positive.
What are the hardest parts?
All of them. There is really nothing easy about running a restaurant. I guess for me the hardest part is managing personalities. Every person that works in this kitchen has a different past and a different set of goals for the future. Making sure everyone is happy is my main objective. If you cook angry the food isn’t going to taste any good. I really believe that.
What are the most rewarding aspects?
The most rewarding aspect is watching people eat and enjoy the food. It takes so much time and effort to get that food on the plate. From concept to sourcing to fabrication, there is so much room for error. Seeing someone take a bite, nod their head and smile makes it all worth it.
If you could be anything else, what would it be?
I always thought it would be cool to design and build skyscrapers.