20 Questions with Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster

I've known Giuseppe Tentori for over 10 years now. We met when he was the sous chef at Charlie Trotter's and I was a very new, green stagiere. Over the years, we've become great friends. He's one of the sincerest, funniest guys I know and gives as good as he gets.

On a cold morning a few weeks ago, I brought over donuts from Donut Vault and we sat down for the chat below. I've recorded seven of these conversations and none has taken more than 9 minutes. Giuseppe is the longest at 13 minutes. That isn't a complaint. My goal has been to show the personality of chef's with this feature and some of the questions below there's a bit of give and take. I think the sugar rush may have hit us both in the second half of the questions. We laughed a lot and I hope you do to.

Name                Giuseppe Tentori

giuseppe tentori.jpg

Restaurant         GT Fish & Oyster
Married               Yes, Christine
Kids                   Not yet
Age                    38
From                   Lodi, Milano (Low-dee not Low-die)
Culinary School   Culinary School in Milan
Knife Hand          Right
Twitter Handle     @giuseppetentori

1. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
I came to GT about 3:30pm took two slices of Ciabatta some pepper aioli, went in to the cooler and slapped some prosciutto and ate it. That was my lunch. Depressing huh?

2. Place you eat most often on days off?
The Bristol

3. If I gave you $10,000, how would you spend it?
I'd go to Tennessee to the Van Winkle family back door. Tell them I have $10k and ask to buy a barrel, on my knees.

4. First word that comes to mind when I say Michelin?
Star

5. Favorite Charity Event that you do?
Common Threads World Festival

6. Last weekend on earth - what city are you eating in?
Hong Kong

7. If you weren't cooking, what would you do for a living?
Farmer

8. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Astronaut

9. Most exotic vacation destination?
I went to Los Cabos for my honeymoon last year. It was my first vacation in 38 years.

10. If you left Chicago to cook somewhere else, where would you go?
Napa

11. Person you would most like to cook for?
I really wish he was alive, Vince Lombardi. I'd sneak in to the back kitchen with his wife and cook him dinner. He'd wonder who made this great food. PS: I'm a Bears Fan.

12. What are you most excited about right now?
GT Fish and Oyster - we have a great team and I'm very lucky to have them in my life.

13. Do you have any pet peeves?
3 - But just at work. People who whistle, lean or have their hands in their pockets. Everyone knows not to do that. Looks very lazy. I'm glad you laugh under you.... You know you should grow a little mustache. You would look good, Joe.

As I stumble to find the next question...

GT - You lost already

14. What is new on your DVR?
GT - Really this is a question...
JC - Yes
GT - Game of Thrones. I really wish I was born in that era.
JC - Would you be a knight?
GT - No, I would be a cook. I would cook for a king. (Joking tone) Kill maybe one or two...a little poisoning on the side. Maybe someone would write about me and I'd be in the history books.

15. Karaoke song?
(Starts singing) "Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit lonely..." Done

16. Dish on the menu you eat most?
GT - On my menu...what I eat the most?
JC - Yes...(pause)...you don't eat your food?
GT - yeah but...
JC -  Is there one dish where you think this is really good I want to eat this?
GT - No, I look at it and I think, "Wow, that looks so good. I want to eat it."
JC - What's that dish?
GT - To be honest, most all of the dishes coming out of the kitchen...
JC - So there isn't one dish...
GT - Why does there have to be one?
JC - I don't know. You have to pick one of your favorites on the menu. The other menu items won't be sad. Don't worry.
GT - I don't think like you. Why don't you show me the questions before hand?
JC - That's not the point.
GT - I won't waste your tape.
JC - There's no tape.
GT - Oh...so you plug in and think, "Oh I listen to Giuseppe." (Laughter) Ahhh...my favorite dish coming up has to be......has to be...the Mussels. Tomato, Basil, Ciabatta, lots of love.

17. First word that comes to mind when I say Green bay Packers?
They have great fans.

18. Dish/Bite/Flavor you miss most from Italy?
Spaghetti dish made with fresh Shad roe, spring onion, cream, chili. Fishy, crunch - I love that dish. I used to work in a restaurant in Milan. I would make a little extra and try it because it's so good.

19. Favorite accent piece from the GT dining room?
GT - I have to say the boomerang table. Where do you find a boomerang table?
JC - Australia?
GT - (in mocking tone) Australia - No in GT. Ya, with a koala hanging underneath.

20. What restaurant in the past did you enjoy working at most?
The Metropolitan in Salt Lake City.

21. It's almost your first wedding anniversary. What has been the best part about being married?
GT - You add that one right. Because that's the 25th one...Why you put in my personal life?
JC - I'm not going to necessarily use it if you don't want to answer.
GT - Oh, so just 10 of these.
JC - No 20, so 5 won't make the cut.
GT - oh like the DVR one...
JC - Don't know maybe...
GT - (Laughs) - I was married before. To be married now, I'm really, excited to go home and be appreciated for who I am. Not be judged for my accent or that I smell like fish. She takes me the way I am. I love her.

22. What does GT stand for?
General Temptation - so when you come to GT you'll be tempted to try all this food.

Giuseppe thanks for taking the time and making me laugh again as I listened to the recording.

You can read the past "20 Question" features by clicking on Ryan Poli and Francis Brennan.

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at chicagofoodsnob@hotmail.com. Joe is retained as a compensated blogger by Pei Wei Asian Diner.

 

 

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