Interview with Chef Matteo Venini
Explore the cuisine and style of Chef Matteo Venini during this interview that highlights his culinary experience and how he ended up at Lupo Verde Osteria in Washington, DC.
Richard Basch for Wander: How did you get into cooking?
Wander: Do you have a specialty dish?
Chef: I love making pasta. There is something about the texture of the dough that makes me happy. I have eight house-made pastas on the menu at Lupo Verde, and I'm always experimenting with new recipes. Of course, being the son of a butcher, I also love cooking with meat. Using smoked butter and fresh herbs are key.
Wander: Do you prefer a particular style of cooking?
Chef: I'm Italian so I enjoy cooking the foods I grew up eating, but with a modern twist. I enjoy testing out new combinations of flavors and techniques.
Wander: What kind of atmosphere do you create in the kitchen?
Chef: We always have fun during service. Keeping the kitchen staff happy is the recipe for success. If your staff isn't happy then that reflects onto the food, and the customer will feel it. Food needs love, passion, and respect.
Wander: What do you look for when you hire other chefs to assist you in the kitchen?
Chef: I look for organization, cooking techniques, and personality. I'm pretty organized. If my dry storage doesn't have all of the labels facing the same direction it drives me crazy. Also, knowing how to sear steak or fish, and blanching vegetables is key. Finally, personality. If the staff doesn’t mesh well in the kitchen that will reflect into the food.
Wander: What is your favorite spice?
Chef: I don't use many spices in my cooking—only black pepper. I do, however, use a ton of fresh herbs including rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, and basil. I never use dry herbs in my cooking.
Wander: What keeps you in cooking?
Chef: Passion! Cooking is a lifestyle. The hours are insane, so if you don't love it, you won't make it.
Wander: Have you had experience with vegetarian cooking?
Chef: I'm a son of a butcher. I started butchering meats when I was 10 years old so cooking vegetarian taboo for me!
Wander: But do you have a favorite vegetarian dish?
Chef: I would say melanzane alla parmigiana, or eggplant parmesan. The combination of the tomato sauce with mozzarella is just amazing and when you add the texture of fried eggplant you bring those flavors to another level.
If You Go to Lupo Verde Osteria
Lupo Verde Osteria is located at 4814 MacArthur Blvd., NW, in Washington, DC. They're open for dinner daily from 5 to 11 p.m. and for brunch on weekends, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch at the Market is Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Visit their website for reservations or call 202.506.6683.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.