Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ricco knew he belonged in the kitchen as soon as he could hold a spatula. That was definitely an early sign of things to come. Inspired by his Italian grandmother's passion for cooking and his own drive to succeed, he ventured from construction work to his first culinary gig at China Grill Restaurant, and eventually found his way to celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market in Manhattan.
Now the Executive Sous Chef, Ricco enjoys the high volume of the restaurant's operations, which can do over 700 covers a night on weekends. “When you work for Jean-Georges, everything is quality, no matter how high the volume is,” he said, adding, “Nothing leaves the kitchen if it's not 100 percent perfect. That's probably my favorite part of the job.”
Ricco brought his high energy and quick humor, along with a deep knowledge of the complexities of Asian spices and flavors, demonstrating two of Spice Market’s signature dishes: Black Pepper Shrimp with Sun-Dried Pineapple and Shaved Tuna with Chili Tapioca in a Coconut Lemongrass Broth. Aside from sharing his tasty dishes with the hungry crowd, Ricco also shared some secrets he has learned during his time at Spice Market, including the best places in New York City to shop for high-quality fish and how to pick out the freshest of ingredients that make his dishes truly remarkable.
Chef Ricco lit up the room with his unconventional cooking style and approach, tossing stalks of lemongrass into the audience and hammering thai chilies with a stone pestle. He even took the opportunity to teach a lucky volunteer a lesson on how to choose and slice tuna for a variety of Asian dishes, including sashimi.
The next demo for students will be a chance to see Pichet Ong get back to basics and bake delicious treats without using kitchen appliances on May 22. Get details on registration here.