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Executive Chef of Beijing TAVOLA Italian Dining

Some chefs are content to stick to the classics while others restlessly push the boundaries of taste and technique, making cooking a kind of art. TAVOLA’s newly appointed head chef Massimo Turano falls firmly into the latter category.

Chef Massimo has worked in cities across Europe, including Prague, Astana, Saint Petersburg, Milan, London, and Paris. He also worked at one Michelin-starred Restaurant Unico for two years. Wherever he has been working, for the past 10 years he has never stopped exploring new flavours and culinary concepts.

Chef Massimo is set to offer many new exciting dining experiences for Beijing diners now he has joined the TAVOLA team. As the kind of person who doesn’t have a “safety zone”, he jumped at the chance to work in Beijing. This is not Chef Massimo’s first time in Asia – he has also worked in Kazakhstan – but he hopes that working in Beijing will expand and enhance his appreciation of Asian ingredients. “I love wasabi, Sichuan pepper, and soy sauce, but I don’t want to randomly apply them to dishes unless it is absolutely necessary. Rather, I want to understand their flavour and what makes them popular.”

Chef Massimo believes that food should be a channel through which to promote different cultures and help people appreciate more global flavours.

Chef Massimo has already diligently studied the Beijing dining scene and the taste of Beijing diners. “My wife is of Russian heritage and I have spent quite a lot of time in Moscow, which is surprisingly similar to Beijing in some ways.” The similarity between these two distant cities lies in the fact that both are curious to try Italian food, but restaurants and chefs face a challenge in that it may be hard to source authentic ingredients and the local cuisine is already very deeply entrenched.

“Now that I have arrived in China, one of my priorities is to make sure I maintain my passion for food and keep up with the pace of food trends abroad.” Chef Massimo isn’t concerned about whether local customers will be accepting of his culinary concepts. “Maybe the market here is a little different from the global market but at the most basic level, people’s tastebuds are still crying out for new flavours.”

Chef Massimo believes that it is a chef’s job to educate people’s tastebuds. “We don’t always have to carry the banner for ‘traditional’, ‘authentic’ or classic,” he explains. “Take ingredients, example. Of course, an ‘Italian tomato’ has to come from Italy but as long as another tomato is fresh and flavourful it may be just as good.” Since arriving at Tavola, he has already surprised and delighted customers with his new business lunch menu, which features ingredients not commonly seen on Italian menus, such as Mackerel.

Although he already speaks five languages, Chef Massimo has now set his sights on Chinese. Chef Massimo loves to challenge himself and try new things, as his globetrotting career attests. “I have had many fascinating opportunities in my career, such as serving some socialites and dignitaries, and I am excited to see what new opportunities Beijing can bring me.”

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