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MAMO NYC – A Fashionable Q&A with Chef Salvatore Marcello

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In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers and finds out more about their lives and careers. This week, Clara speaks with MAMO NYC’s new Executive Chef Salvatore Marcello.

Born to a family of cooks and bakers in Naples, Italy, Salvatore left home at age 13 to pursue his passion and attend the Scuola Alberghiera in Formia, Lazia. After graduation, Salvatore worked at a number of high-profile continental establishments, including the Rocco Forte hotels, the Richemond Hotel and il Vero at the Grand Hotel Kempinski in Geneva.

After falling in love with New York City on holiday in 2015, Salvatore relocated to the Big Apple in October of the following year, where he learned from the city’s top restaurateurs and cooked private dinners before meeting Mike Mammoliti and the MAMO team. www.mamonyc.com

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1. How and when did you first realize you wanted to work in your current industry?

It was more of a calling than a realization.  I grew up in Naples, Italy to a family of cooks and bakers, so you could say it was in my blood.  As a child, and shorter than the stove, I used to guess what my mother was cooking, based only on what I could smell.

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2. Any memorable celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you’re willing to share? 

What happens in the restaurant, stays in the restaurant.

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3. What is a typical day in your life like?

We all know there is no such thing as a typical day as a chef, so I make sure to keep some things consistent.  Every day starts with a shave and an espresso at home (no matter what), and every day ends with a hot shower.  The time between is unpredictable, which makes it even more important that I always put my best foot forward, bringing my positivity and passion to whatever the day throws at me. Repeat.

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4. What are three never-miss events on your calendar?

Barber, acupuncture, falling asleep on the sofa (usually once a week).

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5. What are your three favorite locations in the city?

Union Square, because of the market; The Highline, because I had a life-changing walk along it; Central Park, because sometimes I need a place to clear my mind.

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6. What are your three favorite restaurants in the city?

Shuko, Ribalta, Casa Mono.

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7. What about your three favorite bars?

Westlight, because it has the most amazing view of of New York; Ma Peche isn’t a bar, but I love the Seven Spice Sour; The Ship, hiding behind an unmarked door lies a beautiful space with great drinks.

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8. What has been your best New York moment? What about the worst?

The best and most exciting was when I signed my contract at MAMO, it took some time to find the perfect restaurant and I’m lucky I did.  As for the worst, I have only been here for a year, and so far, I have no gripes.

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9. How would you describe your personal style? 

Simply elegant (and Italian).

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10. Name your go-to: 

a. Outfit:  Slimcut pants, button down shirt from my Neapolitan tailor, Nike Flyknits

b. Perfume or fragrance—YSL Sport

c. Movie—Fight Club

d. Book—Talismano della felicità

e. TV show—Planet Earth

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11. Name your favorite vacation spot, and the hotel you stay at while there. What makes these spots special?

This is a tie.  The Caves in Jamaica is an escape from reality surrounded by warm turquoise waters.  Arashiyama Benkei, a ryokan in Tokyo, is a surreal experience coupled with perfect Japanese Kaiseki.

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12. What is your favorite restaurant in the world, and what is your favorite dish to eat there?

It’s a competition between the Casatiello at my parents’ house, and the eggplant parmigiana at my grandparents’ house.

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13. What are your three most played songs?

‘O Surdato ‘nnamorato, Needle and the Damage Done, La Canzone del Sole

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14. What are three items you couldn’t live without?

My metrocard, FaceTime (to stay in touch with my family), my Nespresso.

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15. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why? 

I already met her, and she’s marrying me next summer.

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16. If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

A chef!

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17. What is something people might not know about you?

I’m not a picky eater.  I know good food, but I don’t feel that every meal I eat has to be held to that standard.

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18. Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?

Cooking shows are fun to watch, but it’s not a real example of a chef’s life.  To be a successful chef you need to be passionate, hard working, committed (and prepared to miss out on a lot of holidays).

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19. What changes do you think your industry will undergo in the next 5-10 years?

I think we’re going to see a return to the basics, focusing on the essentials of good food, and moving away from dishes being over-the-top for the sake of it.  True luxury is founded in the relationship between guest and restaurant, and I believe we’ll see a new focus on fostering that.

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20. Is there anything else you’d like to share, discuss or promote?

MAMO Caffe, the restaurant’s lower level, just launched a new menu compromised of simple, mix-and-match small plates. It’s only open for lunch right now, but dinner is coming soon.

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Images Courtesy of Mamo NYC