Francesco Apreda

Francesco Apreda

Francesco Apreda

Combining Indian spices and Japanese techniques with classic Italian cooking has made Francesco Apreda one of Rome's most contemporary chefs.

Born in Naples in 1974, Francesco Apreda started life attending business school until his family moved to Formia, on the Campania-Lazio border, when he was thirteen years old. The local culinary school was held in high regard, so Francesco enrolled despite never having cooked before. As he grew older, Francesco started working in pizza restaurants and butcheries until he was nineteen, when he gained a commis chef position at Hotel Hassler, in Rome. He rose through the ranks to become chef de partie, learning the fundamental skills needed to cook at a high level.

In 1995, Francesco’s old classmate Maurizio Morelli rang him and asked if he wanted to come and work in London. For the next five years, he worked in some of the cities top restaurants, including Le Gavroche, Ibla and Green Olive. But what Francesco enjoyed the most was discovering new international cuisines that he hadn’t encountered before.I discovered Japanese food and Indian restaurants,’ he says. ‘I started eating different foods whenever I could – it was so inspiring!’

Back in the kitchen, Francesco learnt a great deal from Maurizio, one of the most celebrated Italian chefs in the UK at the time, and it wasn’t until 2001 that he decided to move on. Francesco was approached by Roberto E. Wirth, his former employer and the owner of Hotel Hassler, who had followed his progress as a young chef. Impressed with what he saw at Le Gavroche and at a couple of events in London, he asked him to work at his restaurant Cicerone in Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. In Japan, Francesco learnt to appreciate the integrity and innate characteristics of each ingredient, as well as new cooking techniques, but he soon found that he was able to rediscover the value and flavours of Italian cuisine.

At the age of twenty-nine, Francesco returned to Rome and took over the kitchens of Imàgo at Hotel Hassler to become the youngest executive chef of the hotel’s history. He instantly set about maintaining the high standards the hotel had gained over the years, but felt his culinary knowledge still wasn’t as complete as he wanted it to be. However, after further trips to India, America and Thailand, Francesco developed his skills even further, improving his palate and enhancing the creativity of his dishes.

In 2009, Imàgo received its first Michelin star. Francesco was in India at the time, working as a consultant at two restaurants owned by the Oberoi group. ‘It is a moment I will never forget – jumping up and down in the middle of a street in Mumbai without anyone really understanding what I was celebrating,’ he says.

Francesco describes his cuisine as modern Italian, despite his years of travelling. ‘I create very technical dishes but full of flavours,’ he explains. ‘When you eat my dishes, something happens.’ However, there are international twists found on his menu, especially Indian spices and Japanese cooking techniques, which gives his cooking a unique and contemporary spin.