Michele Mancuso, Toscana Pizzeria

Hometown: Cariati, Italy

What made you realize you wanted to work in the food industry?

I grew up with my grandma and mom, both good cooks, watching and smelling good food.

Who is the person you most admire in the food industry?

My Grandma Angelica.

What is your favorite part about being a chef?

To show people what I really love to do. When they try the food and their mouths water, their faces are happy. It’s a big compliment.

How do you unwind after service? A glass of wine and one of my dishes.

What cookbook should every home have? French Laundry.

What is the one recipe/ingredient you struggled to master and how did you overcome it? Paella. A lady in Spain showed me the trick to make it nice.

What’s your favorite kitchen scar? I cut my thumbnail when I was 15, cutting a prosciutto di Parma.

Do you have a hidden talent? A sort of “magic” trick. Sometimes if there is time, after a customer finishes a bottle of wine, I have them push the cork in the bottle. I can pull it out of bottle with a cloth napkin!

For information about VisitSYV Restaurant Weeks, go to www.dinesyv.com.