Working twice as hard

Being a woman chef in the South. And working to fight stereotypes too. Sabrina Tuzi’s story

31-10-2014
Sabrina Tuzi, born in 1984, chef at La Degusteria

Sabrina Tuzi, born in 1984, chef at La Degusteria del Gigante in San Benedetto del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno). Before her current role, she can boast an important curriculum at Messer Chichibio and Niko Romito’s

It is not easy to tell one’s story, especially for me being quite an introvert. I’m 30 and I’m the chef at La Degusteria del Gigante in San Benedetto del Tronto, in the Marche, a small restaurant located inside an old rural house in a seaside village. My training after catering school was enriched in various restaurants on the Adriatic coast.

For instance, I owe a lot to Piero Crescenzi of Messer Chichibio, also in San Benedetto. It is here that I understood the meaning of work organization: it was a perfectly oiled machine, a kitchen in which nothing was ever missing, from the salt bottle that was always full up to the edge to a pantry that was rich of all raw materials, in every moment. A pioneering chef, ahead of his time.

The squid parmigiana by Sabrina Tuzi

The squid parmigiana by Sabrina Tuzi

Right afterwards, I worked just on the other side of the border with Romito, when his restaurant Reale still had only one star and was in Rivisondoli, L'Aquila. Niko opened my horizons over cooking. And he struck me with the humility he has in every moment, in his relationship with the staff: each dish was tasted and he listened to everyone. He was the perfect kitchen man. I then completed my journey with some short yet important courses: one on first courses with Ettore Bassi and one on desserts with Loretta Fanella.

My cuisine is based essentially on the use of local raw materials and the rediscovery of ancient local traditions. Flavours that are easily recognisable and dishes that are not overly Baroque, following a neat and simple line. A rather complex approach for a town that is dressed up as modern but in the end is still rather ancient and conservative in its basic approach. However, San Benedetto del Tronto is in fact an area extremely rich with excellent raw materials and cultural and gastronomic traditions on which we are working to fully give them value. Not an easy task since our area is considered a bit like the Marche’s Cinderella.

The old arches at Sigismondo Gaetani’s restaurant La Degusteria del Gigante, via degli Anelli 19, San Benedetto del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno), +39.0735.588644

The old arches at Sigismondo Gaetani’s restaurant La Degusteria del Gigante, via degli Anelli 19, San Benedetto del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno), +39.0735.588644

Has being a woman chef been an obstacle, working in kitchens in the South? Indeed, I wouldn’t deny it. The fact that perhaps I was the first woman to enter the kitchen team was always underlined. Even today, those who come in the kitchen always think I am my own sous-chef, Luigi Damiani: it’s hard for a client to believe that there’s a woman at the helm. I once read that the same happened to my colleague Cristina Bowerman, a woman chef I admire very much. I remember also an interview with the chefs of a very important restaurant in the Northern Italy that appeared on Panorama magazine, a few years ago: they said that for a woman-chef it is harder, because in the case of pregnancy you cannot close a restaurant. I was rather upset. And thought: couldn’t a man also have some unforeseen event?

I often had to work twice as much as my male colleagues to prove I was really worth it. However, I always thought that, where physical strength perhaps cannot compete with that of the other sex, we know how to better use our heads: if a weight is heavy, we will lift it in two steps. In other words, nothing is impossible. And I’d finish paraphrasing a sentence I heard from Cristina Bowerman: in any work, there’s no difference between women and men. There are only people who try to do their job in the best possible way and with love. A lot has been done but there’s still a lot to do.

See also
Respect as a goal by Caterina Ceraudo
Tenacity, love and quality by Patrizia Corradetti
Liberty in the dining room by Anna Sala
Pamela’s Passion by Pamela Filomeno
Dishes to chew by Teresa Buongiorno
Love is a raw material by Alba Esteve Ruiz
The art of never giving up by Deborah Corsi
Becoming a restaurateur by Patrizia Maraviglia
In search for passion by Anneke Van Sande
Challenging oneself in Norway by Lucia Tellone
I want to make bread
by Roberta Pezzella
So young for everything
by Rosanna Marziale
Rigour and cheerfulness
by Serenella Medone
The chef from Northern Naples
by Marianna Vitale
In the team with my mother
by Serena D'Alesio
Men, what a disaster
by Marzia Buzzanca
A total vocation
by Antonella Ricci
A full life
by Maria De La Paz
Mind and heart
by Marta Grassi
Effort with a smile
by Nadia Moscardi
Nothing is impossible
by Emanuela Tommolini
Giving value to differences by Viviana Varese
The other half of the dish
by Elisa Arduini