When Soho Beach House decided to open a Cecconi's concept there a year ago, one could hear a collective sigh across the 305. "Another Italian restaurant?" we asked. "Why?" After all, our city has more than its fair share of spaghetti slingers and pizza pirates.
But then we heard the executive chef of Casa Tua, Sergio Sigala, was behind the line, and our interest was piqued. Sigala made a name for himself in Miami from opening day at that spot more than a decade ago and many knew he had earned his stripes previously by working at renowned eateries and hotels throughout Europe -- including Michelin-starred restaurants in Goito and Lake Garda, Italy--and he served as Chef of Italian Cuisine at the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel where he catered private parties and royal weddings.
In time we learned to appreciate his Italian flair working within
Cecconi's menu as much as we do it's romantically lit garden atmosphere
(we awarded it this year's Best of Miami for Best Outdoor Dining), and now we scamper over for his pappardelle, gnocchi, and branzino.
marks the one-year anniversary of what has become one of Miami Beach's
most popular restaurants, and it has been a banner year for Sigala. Not
only did he have the opportunity to cook at the James Beard House this
past April, but...
New Times: What do you remember about September 28, 2011?
Sergio Sigala: I had two babies the same day! At 9 o'clock I was in the hospital and by 5 o'clock I was here with 1,500 people.
When did you start cooking?
More than 20 years now. I went to culinary high school in Italy.
I've never heard of such a thing. Do you have to specialize?
We covered all departments and front-of-the-house. You cook for the first three years and the last three are for management of the kitchen and restaurant.
Why did you get into cooking?
When I was 14 everybody was driving around a Vespa. When I told my family I wanted a Vespa, too, my dad was already working two jobs to support the family. He said, if you want a Vespa, you need to work. I asked my cousin, he was a chef, to give me a job and he gave me work as a dishwasher. I was working basically 16 to 17 hours a day for four months. After I realized I could make money I signed up for culinary school.
Any other chefs in your family?
Yes, but I didn't really learn from them. But I learned what you grow in your garden should go into the food.
What was in your garden at home?
We were growing potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, kiwi.
Twenty-five years ago no one knew kiwi.
And where's your garden here at Cecconi's?
It's a small project that is ongoing. We're talking to Paradise Farms. We're going to start to grow herbs, probably some climbing tomatoes to add color.
Where were you born?
I'm from a small town. Close to Milan and the Swiss Alps. Lombardy.
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Where was your first job in school?
Every summer I worked in a different restaurant and in the winter I would go to school. I applied at different hotels.
Is this the only job you've ever had, then?
I changed my mind once. I decided I wanted to be an electrician. But I never did it. My dream was to be a fireman.
Come back to learn where the heck he's running to and whether he considers Big Macs revolting and liver a treat or vice versa.