Chef Francesco Aiello proudly claims being “Born and Raised” in Palermo, Sicily, and that pride translate into his vision of bringing the real Italian flavor to Orlando, Florida with his Franceso´s Ristorante & Pizzeria.
Born in 1976, Francesco had a really different life envisioned for himself. At the age of fifteen, Aiello was a soccer player at his hometown, but with culinary blood in his veins thanks to his father and grandfather, who taught him the love for cooking. It didn’t took too long for Francesco to find his real path, that lead him into the “Instituto Alberhiero” in 1996, an Italian culinary school located at Palermo. But his career really started in 1998, year in which he decided to begin, what he calls an “Adventure”, into the United States.
It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t quick, but after almost 15 years of hard work, dedication, long hours and love for what he does, Aiello had opened his own restaurant called Francesco´s Ristorante in Orlando, Florida.
“There is a lot of competition” Francesco claims, but he recognizes that the major challenge is teaching people how to differentiate the real Italian cuisine from those other food establishments that use Italian names just “business wise”.
That was his main goal, bringing what he calls “99.99% culinary Italian tradition” to the States and that’s exactly what you can expect to have in his restaurant. Francesco sees himself as a seafood lover, and that’s thanks to his roots back in the southern region of Palermo, so he is not afraid of suggesting to all his customers enjoying a seafood dish like a seafood risotto or sea bass, both wonderful dishes.
When he arrived to the United States back in 1998, there wasn’t many Italian products on the market, but he has seen that change for the better. But even today, he still sees a lack of love for the seasonal food, and he uses the eggplant as an example, food which can be harvested in Italy during May, June, July, August and September while in USA it can be found all along the year and this, mostly unknown by the consumers, can make a real difference in the flavor and benefits of these kind of food, and this is something that Francesco hopes to be able, in the long term, to push a change in this vision.
“I consider myself as someone who loves what he does” Aiello claims, mostly those times behind the stove, on which he recognizes won’t leave out too much free time to share with friends nor family, and this is why this kind of job requires such high amounts of dedication, love and passion. Francesco admits he doesn’t cook for himself at the moment, in fact, he spends little time making meals for himself after those long hours of work but he often does receive family and friends for who he then does all the work.
You have to love what you do, you have to love who you are and you have to love your roots and where you come from, no matter where you are, this are the main lessons we learned from Francesco and what sets him apart from the crowd.
Produced by: Irina Pabis
Photo/Video by: Richard Pabis
Written by: Jesús Morales