Lorenzo Boni is the Executive Chef of Barilla America, the U.S. division of the Barilla Group – Italy's largest food producer and the #1 brand of pasta in Italy and the United States.
Chef Lorenzo Boni grew up with a passion for Italian food in Bologna, Italy. While studying culinary arts, Lorenzo traveled extensively throughout Italy, immersing himself in the regional cuisines of Italy. He then traveled to the United States, where he served as the Second Chef and Pastry Chef at the San Domenico Restaurant in New York City. After working in New York, he returned to Italy and opened his own restaurant, Osteria du Madon, in Bologna, which was awarded by Fodor’s guide as best Osteria of Italy. In 2001, Lorenzo joined Barilla at their world headquarters in Parma. In 2003, he was promoted to Executive Chef for Barilla America, returning once again to the U.S. In his current role, Lorenzo is responsible for product and recipe development, as well as managing the culinary execution of all Barilla sponsored events. Lorenzo currently resides in Evanston, Illinois with his wife Beata and daughter Valentina.
We at Food Fashionista are huge fans of Barilla pasta and have recently been addicted to their extremely delicious whole grain pastas which are healthy and come in four shapes: Spaghetti, Thin Spaghetti, Rotini and Penne. It is no wonder why Barilla has been so successful since it's founding in 1877 in Parma, Italy. At Barilla, they believe that the making — and enjoyment — of food is an art. "To eat doesn't mean only to feed yourself – it means also to love yourself," notes Barilla president Guido Barilla. Amen to that!
Whatever your taste or budget, Barilla pastas are a meal that everyone can incorporate in to their every day lifestyles. Not only does Barilla produce incredible pastas and sauces, but they also have an incredible team behind their brand. That is why I am so excited to share my exclusive interview with Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni with all of you. From the interview below, you can really tell that Chef Boni has such a zest for life. I've also included one of Lorenzo Boni's favorite Barilla Pasta recipes, Linguine with Clams and Leek Sauce (pictured below) at the end of the interview.
Lorenzo Boni's Barilla Linguine with Clams and Leek Sauce
Food Fashionista's Exclusive Interview with Chef Lorenzo Boni
Where were you born? And when did you first know you wanted to be a chef?
I was born in Bologna, Italy. I decided to be a chef very early, when I was about 8 years old. The elementary school I was attending organized a cooking class and I loved it!!
Where do you live or spend most of your time now?
I live in Evanston, Illinois within walking distance of Lake Michigan. I really love the area because it reminds me of back home. It’s a Wonderful place.
When you are not in the kitchen, where would one find Lorenzo Boni?
Home playing with my beautiful daughter Valentina, who is 20 months old. I also enjoy working out by the lake or at the gym.
What is your favorite vacation hot spot?
The islands of Greece and Sicily.
What are your favorite restaurants?
I love Japanese food in general and I also enjoy Thai and of course, Italian.
What is your absolute favorite dish to prepare?
Seafood on the grill. One year on the 4th of July, I went out for a barbecue by Lake Michigan in Chicago. Everybody was grilling burgers, hot dogs and turkey’s thighs, but my grill had Turbot, two Branzinis, calamari, shrimp skewers and an eel. People looked at me like I had three heads.
What is your least favorite dish to prepare?
That is a very hard question as I only cook stuff that I enjoy making and eating.
What is your favorite drink/cocktail?
A glass of prosecco is always the best start for me.
Do you have a favorite Barilla pasta?
Hard to choose… Campanelle as a short cut and thick spaghetti for the long How often do you and your family cook Barilla recipes at home? 4 times a week at least. Italians eat pasta very often…
What are three things that everyone should have in their kitchen?
Spaghetti, a good EVOO and a great Parmigiano Reggiano. In ten minutes you’ll have one of the best meals ever…
Do you eat junk/fast food? If so, what is number one on your list?
Not very often–only when I don’t have an alternative I’ll stop and get something. My favorite is Culver’s butter burger and frozen custard.
If you weren’t a chef, what would be your ultimate dream job?
Surf instructor, personal trainer, masseur or dietician (or all of four combined).
What was the most memorable meal you have ever had?
It was recently in Ivrea Piedmont, at my great friend’s house, Chef Corrado. He cooked an unbelievable Piemontese dinner: tuna stuffed peppers and onions, veal “tonne`”, Lardo D’Arnard with bread croutons, Ravioli del Plin with truffles, Fontina D” Alpeggio cheese , Almond and blood orange tart, handmade Gianduja candy chocolates and homemade gelato made by Corrado who is also an amazing pastry chef. And lots of Barbera…
Do you follow fashion? If so, who is your favorite designer?
I do like nice clothes. I love jeans. My favorite brand is G-Star. Most Italian designers make beautiful stuff, but it’s usually too expensive for me. When I splurge, I choose Dolce e Gabbana
What kind of music do you listen to and who is your favorite singer or musical group?
My favorite singer is Eric Clapton although I enjoy music in general. Rock/blues is my first choice though.
When you are not in your Chef’s clothing, what is the typical Lorenzo Boni outfit?
Jeans and a nice t-shirt, when the Chicago weather conditions allow it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be doing whatever is best for my daughter Valentina
What are your words of advice for aspiring chefs?
Be ready for long hours in the kitchen, put a lot of passion into it and don’t do it hoping to become the next Iron Chef. You’re luck will be as good as winning the lottery…
Who is/are your hero or heroes?
Muhammad Ali` from the past and Barack Obama (I hope for the world) for the future.
What is something that would surprise people to know about you?
I am very competitive. If I lose at any type of competition, I feel bad for a long time.
For more information on Chef Lorenzo Boni, visit Chef Boni's Page on the US Barilla Website
For Lorenzo Boni's Linguine with Clams and Leeks Sauce Recipe, visit here