Matteo Metullio


Matteo Metullio

From his hometown of Trieste to the rugged mountains of South Tyrol, Matteo Metullio uses the best produce Italy has to offer and draws on international influences to create truly special cuisine.

Born in 1989 in the city of Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Matteo Metullio knew he wanted to be a chef from the age of twelve. Despite no one in his family working in the industry, they were all excellent home cooks and Matteo’s early memories always focused on the food of winter, where the importance of flavours would make him happier on a cold winter’s day. His family would make rich soups with lentils and crispy bread – something he still enjoys now. At the age of fourteen he began studying at a culinary school in Falcade, Veneto, but found that the course was almost entirely theory and there was very little practical work.

Because of this, Matteo also began working at a traditional osteria in Trieste and soon mastered many of the classical dishes of the region, something he believes is essential to becoming an accomplished chef. ‘You don’t have to work in Michelin-starred restaurants before you can call yourself a great chef,’ he says. ‘As long as you know the basics and traditions, then you can become one.’ After graduation, he started work at Le Codole in Belluno with chef Oscar Tibolla. Here, Matteo moved from classical cooking to gourmet, inspired by the teachings of Oscar.

From Bolzano, Matteo was discovered by three-starred chef Norbert Niederkofler, who helped to further his knowledge and passion in the kitchen. Matteo had the opportunity to travel the world and credits Norbert and his team for helping him become the chef he is today. ‘I worked for four years at St Hubertus where I learnt how to be in a big team and work not only in a restaurant but also do catering and events in Bolzano, Le Mans, Monaco and the US,’ he says. ‘Everything is perfect there.’

In his final years of working at St Hubertus under Norbert, Matteo worked in another restaurant near Lake Garda’s La Speranzina for summer experience. The different cooking style and high level of service made him realise he wanted to take the next step in his career and combine the flavours of South Tyrol with his hometown, Trieste.

In 2012, Matteo began working in a nearby Michelin-starred hotel-restaurant called La Siriola under the leadership of chef Fabio Cucchelli. In 2013 Matteo was given the title of executive chef and retained the Michelin star to become Italy’s youngest starred-chef at the age of just twenty-four. In 2017, he received his second Michelin star, affirming his place in the country's culinary hall of fame.

Depsite the wonderful variety of ingredients in the mountains of South Tyrol, Matteo also likes to be inspired from further afield. ‘We're in Italy and it’s crazy to ignore most of its beautiful ingredients just because you're based in a particular region,’ he says. ‘We can take advantage of the country’s amazing and varied terroir and choose many different ingredients like radicchio, cabbage, cauliflower from the north or lemons and oranges from the south.’

Matteo describes his cuisine as Mediterranean, featuring many basic ingredients: tomatoes, oregano, basil, mozzarella and fish. What makes his food unique is the influences he takes from his travels around the world. ‘I was in Paris a few days ago and I ate a fish that was incredible,’ he explains. ‘If French chefs only used local ingredients, maybe I wouldn't have eaten something as nice. I also tried many ingredients from Asia, and learnt how to make proper curry in Thailand, which I reinvented for Italians.’

This use of the world’s ingredients is something Matteo feels strongly about. ‘Why shouldn't I use products coming from abroad just because they are part of other cultures?’ he says. ‘It would be wrong not to use Italian products, of course, but we can be inspired by other countries. We can't think we're better than others; there will always be someone that cooks better than you so it's always good to learn.

‘I am there to give joy to my customers, nothing more,’ he continues. ‘We're not scientists or doctors, even if some of us think so. We're simply artisans and we're also very lucky to do something we love. There are people who wake up everyday to do something they don't enjoy. We shouldn't have the arrogance to think we're geniuses, and we should always try to give people a couple of hours of calm and happiness.’