Last Word: Paolo Pieri

Owner, Michelangelo’s, Ryton

What do you have for breakfast?
I start with two espresso ahead of an hour in the gym. After that, I’ll make a big smoothie – cucumber and pineapple is perfect for the start of the day.

And your go-to guilty pleasure?
I pick as I work, which is really important in the kitchen as you have to taste everything which goes out the door. If I’m treating myself, KFC is a favourite – just not too often.

What would be your last meal on earth?
Posh fish and chips – a good quality piece of Dover sole, pan fried then grilled and served with chips and peas.

What’s in your home fridge/freezer?
Lots of fruit and vegetables for smoothies, and another of my guilty pleasures – ice cream. I could eat it all day while sitting in the sunshine in Italy, and when I’m at home I have to have some close by at all times.

Which ingredient would you have if you could only choose one?
Garlic is essential in our Mediterranean menu and in so many other cuisines. I couldn’t work without it. Rosemary picked from our herb garden comes in a close second.

What’s your most important piece of kitchen kit?
The convection oven is essential and I love having one in the kitchen. I have my eyes on a Rational oven as we expand our wedding business too, which will only improve what we do further.

What’s your favourite cookbook?
I’ve got a huge collection of cookbooks, but the one thing I’ve always loved to read more than anything else is La Cucina Italiana magazine. It’s such an inspiring publication, filled with interviews with chefs, trends and lots of recipes.

What’s your most important piece of advice in the kitchen?
Build your ability to cope under pressure, which is something which comes with experience. It’s important to be able to take a breath, think your way through what you’re doing, and get yourself through a service with as clear a head as possible.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in food?
I’d love to have been an interior designer. I’ve done all the work in our restaurant and I have a great passion for art and design.

If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
Good fish and plenty of fruit. I had a beautiful grilled shellfish and fresh tropical fruit platter in Italy recently and it was as perfect a meal as I’ve had.

Who is the greatest cook ever?
The best chef has to be Gordon Ramsay. His food is incredible and covers such a wide spectrum, but is always rooted in simple flavours. I also must mention my Aunt Nicola – a fabulous Italian home cook who inspired me so much in my early days in a kitchen.

Michelangelo’s, Stella Road, Blaydon, NE21 4LU, tel 0191 413 2921,

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