Giancarlo Perbellini

Giancarlo Perbellini

Giancarlo Perbellini

One of Italy’s most celebrated pastry chefs, Giancarlo Perbellini is a legend amongst his peers. His grandfather’s teachings influence everything he does, and dining in his restaurant puts you right in the heart of the action.

Coming from a long line of pastry makers held in high regard since 1890, it’s no surprise that Giancarlo Perbellini is known for his desserts. Born in Bovolone, Verona, in 1964, his food celebrates everything good about the region’s cuisine, and it’s here that his two Michelin-starred restaurant Casa Perbellini is based. His family ran a successful pastry factory, but Giancarlo’s first memories of food come from his grandmother’s kitchen. ‘Whenever she used to make tortellini, I’d always try to steal and eat the raw meat put aside for the filling!’ he laughs.

The opportunity to work in his family’s pastry business was always waiting for him, but Giancarlo knew he wanted to express his love for food in front of an audience, so he chose to train as a chef instead. After leaving catering college, he started his career at the Dodici Apostoli and Marconi restaurants in Verona. He worked his way up from the most junior positions – something he feels is very important for any chef – which helped him respect the amount of work you need to put in to run a successful kitchen. He then moved to Imola, Bologna, to work at San Domenico, where he began to develop the knowledge and skills needed to create new, original dishes.

Three years later Giancarlo moved to Paris, working in the kitchens of world-class restaurants including L’Ambroisie, Le Chateau d’Esclimont and Taillevent. Learning from French master chefs influenced his pastry work, and helped him develop his skills beyond what his family had taught him. After a short stay in London, he returned to Verona in 1989 to open his first restaurant Isola Rizza on the grounds of his grandfather’s factory. He was soon receiving all sorts of accolades for his food, and by 2002 held two Michelin stars. In 2014, he moved on to open Casa Perbellini, in Piazza San Zeno, the heart of the oldest part of Verona, and retained the stars he worked so hard to achieve: a place without barriers where the chef and his cuisine remain at the centre, in a spectacular open kitchen.

Despite working with some of Europe’s greatest chefs, Giancarlo says the most influential mentor he ever had was his grandfather. ‘My grandfather was a very important figure in my life,’ he explains. ‘From a young age he taught me how to make amazing pastry.’ He keeps his memory alive in the kitchen, where his chefs wear traditional waistcoats and flat caps, just as his grandfather would have done.

Eating at Casa Perbellini isn’t like a traditional restaurant experience. Giancarlo wanted to break down the barrier between chef and diner, so he built the kitchen right in the centre of the dining room. Guests can ask the chefs questions while they work, get some insight into how the dishes were created and even taste the ingredients while they’re cooking. Giancarlo is always talking with his customers and getting feedback on his dishes, making the whole experience much more interactive than a standard restaurant. The food is quintessentially Italian – Langoustines with peas and mandarin and Braised veal cheek, potato puree and fried leeks are typical dishes which combine Italian produce and flavours with techniques he learnt during his time in France. Everything is home-made, most notably his wide range of amazing pastries; the real key to his success.

Outside the kitchen, Giancarlo is an avid football fan. ‘I love to play football,’ he says. ‘I’m part of an Italian Michelin-starred restaurant team, and we won the European trophy in 2015. I am very competitive, and playing helps me relax.’ He also has four other restaurants throughout Verona, all of which bear his name, so he’s never too far from the kitchen. But even after all his achievements, he doesn’t describe himself as a chef, preferring the title ‘artisanal cook’ instead.