Lorenzo Cogo

Lorenzo Cogo

Lorenzo Cogo

At just thirty-one years old, Lorenzo Cogo is the youngest Michelin-starred chef-owner in Italy. His creative, instinctive way of cooking, combined with his experience cooking in some of the world’s best restaurants, has made him one of the most exciting figures in modern Italian cuisine.

To gain a Michelin star is something many chefs strive for throughout their professional lives; Lorenzo Cogo managed it by the time he was twenty-five. His ability to rethink traditional recipes and play around with them by drawing on influences from around the world helped cement his place among the Italian culinary elite.

Born in 1986 in Thiene, Vicenza, Lorenzo already had cooking in his blood – his father owned a traditional trattoria and before that, his grandfather was a chef. From his first taste of fresh milk he knew he would follow in his family’s footsteps, and after completing his studies, Lorenzo set his sights on travelling the world to learn as much about food as he possibly could.

His first international job took him to the other side of the world, where Lorenzo worked in Melbourne, Australia, with acclaimed chef Shannon Bennett at Vue de Monde. A short move to Sydney meant he had the chance to work with Mark Best at the famous Marque Restaurant, before the opportunity of a lifetime to work with Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck meant packing his bags for London.

Lorenzo still wasn’t finished with his quest to study international cuisine. After working at The Fat Duck, he travelled to Tokyo to work with three Michelin-starred chef Seiji Yamamoto at his legendary restaurant Nihon Ryori Ryugin. This was an important milestone in Lorenzo’s development, as Seiji taught him how to properly handle raw ingredients, the art of resourceful cooking and how to properly respect tradition, which had a profound effect on his cooking style. He then went to work with the godfather of European barbecue Victor Arguinzoniz at Asador Etxebarri in Spain. Victor’s love of cooking over open flames inspired Lorenzo, and he fell in love with cooking on traditional grills. ‘Working with Victor Arguinzoniz was a dream job,’ he tells us. ‘There was so much energy in the kitchen, so much passion with fire.’

A year and a half after he arrived at Asador Etxebarri, Lorenzo was promoted to sous chef, but his wanderlust struck again when he saw an opening for a position at Noma in Copenhagen. He couldn’t ignore the chance to work with Rene Redzepi at one of the best restaurants in the world, and moved to Denmark to evolve his cooking knowledge even further. He wouldn’t return home to his native Italy until 2010, when he received a telephone call from his father. Who told him about an old trattoria that was available to buy in his hometown of Marano Vicentino. After taking a look at the building, Lorenzo realised it was his chance to fulfil his dream and run his own restaurant. El Coq was opened in 2011, and won a Michelin star in 2012. He stayed there until late 2016, when he moved El Coq to the centre of Vicenza.

After years travelling and gaining experience with some of the world’s best chefs, Lorenzo has finally settled down at El Coq. His cooking is instinctive and he loves trying to create something new on a daily basis, but the things he learnt when abroad play a large part in his dishes, too. Cod with peas, snowpeas, candied cedar and pea shoots, Smoked mackerel and tomato water and Ravioli with garden trimmings, chamomile, tequila and almond milk are all recipes with international influences, and Lorenzo still loves to cook using open flames, as he did in Spain. His philosophical approach to produce comes from his time in Tokyo: ‘For me, the secret of the authentic fine dining experience is in the ingredients,’ he explains. ‘High quality products, very very fresh, cooked in the best way possible – that’s it! The new generations have to keep in mind who we are and where we come from.’