Gianfranco Schifano, the new chef at the Richmond restaurant in Montreal, has had an extraordinary journey in the culinary industry. Chef Schifano comes from an Italian family of restaurant owners and grew up surrounded by what would quickly become his passion. His father owned four restaurants in Sicily, which allowed him to immerse himself in the world of food after graduating from culinary school.
Young and ambitious, Chef Schifano was 19 when he travelled to Paris to explore French cuisine. This was where he met his mentor Alain Ducasse, a renowned French Parisian chef who has earned three Michelin stars. Chef Schifano then worked with Frédéric Robert at Grande Cascade, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and at the world-renowned Bellagio. At 28, Chef Schifano decided to return to Italy in order to work at Cracco in Milan with Carlo Cracco, a chef twice awarded by the Michelin Guide. At 31, Chef Schifano returned to Paris in order to open his first restaurant, Scibetta.
Chef Schifano’s career path then took him to Morocco and Boccaccio, where he would work for more than 6 years at the head of a team of 10. His time in Morocco would turn out to be a rewarding experience full of memorable meetings, including with Chef Heinz Beck who would present him with an award for his restaurant being named one of the 70 best pizzerias in the world in 2018. Chef Schifano also met with Luc Laroche who convinced him to move to Montreal. When asked what really motivated him to travel to French America, he answered that it was first and foremost “for the enriching experience.”
The road has not always been easy for Chef Schifano. Despite his ability to adapt, the culinary world requires a lot of rigour and discipline and the pressure is always constant. However, his international experiences have allowed him to find his niche: Italian French cooking. According to Chef Schifano, both cuisines are similar in their Mediterranean style and their seasoning.
When asked about how he develops a menu, Chef Schifano told us that he first studies the clientele and then builds the menu using seasonal products. That’s how he has made his mark and what has allowed him to earn myriad awards throughout his career.
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