Matteo Boffo is an Italian-born and raised, New York City-based chef. He began cooking the day he could reach the stove, developing a passion that took him around the world seeking inspiration. Uniquely influenced by the Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines, Boffo enjoys taking a fresh approach to traditional meals, giving them new meaning.
Boffo was the creative genius behind the deliciousness we delivered to your door on March 19th. We got a chance to sit down with Boffo at the Plated Headquarters in NYC for an inside look at his passion and his art.
Q: What made you want to become a chef? Was there an element of your family life growing up that led you to this career choice?
A: I grew up in Italy – there’s a huge culinary tradition over there. Almost everybody cooked in my family. Family infused me with this love for food and fresh ingredients. We had our own vegetables, our own fruit and our own animals.
I discovered pretty late in life that it was my call – that that was what I was supposed to be doing. It was about 10 years ago, when I was about 18 or 19.
Q: Who or what is behind your culinary inspiration? Has any place you’ve traveled impacted your cooking in any way?
A: I have to say that moving to the US – about 2 ½ years ago – that was an epiphany for me. Despite coming from Italy, where the culinary tradition is so deep and so important, I fell in love with the American attitude towards food, which is: definitely respecting the tradition, but not being afraid of upgrading and going against strict rules.
I started exploring restaurants here and there, and eating more Asian food. That’s a huge influence for me – especially Southeast Asian cuisine. I do a lot of Italian-based food with influences from mainly Southeast Asia.
Q: What is the best dish you ever made?
A: Back in Italy, I used to make something really simple, but I absolutely loved it. I made these big ravioli, only two per portion – so they were huge. It was an egg-based pasta with mascarpone, rosemary-infused tomato water, and king crab inside. That’s one of my favorite things I ever made. It’s very simple but done with a lot of attention to the [fresh and well-made ingredients]: fresh crab, Italian mascarpone, tomatoes from my garden – I was really happy with that.
Q: Which recipe in this weekʼs box is most personal for you? What inspired it?
A: The pasta with sunchoke and squid… It’s a traditional recipe, and it’s what represents me the most. I am from Trevizzo, near Venito (Venice), Italy. This recipe is a classic recipe of Sardinia (an island of Italy).
Q: Do you have some advice for our Plated chefs?
A: Something that I’ve learned: don’t overcomplicate your recipes. One well-done thing is much better than 20 so-so ingredients. There were moments when I would overcomplicate things, but I would just come back to my classics. For example, making pasta properly – like tagliatelle – and then just seasoning it with Parmesan cheese and butter. I saw that that would make me much happier. So I mastered that, and over time I started adding a few more ingredients.
I would generally say to play within your limits. Don’t try to show off by adding things to the plate, show off by properly doing what you know. Everything else will develop organically.
Chef Challenge: Try to cook and eat things you don’t like, because most of the time, it’s not the actual ingredients, it’s the preparation.
– Pareesha Narang