Gian Nicola Colucci
Four Seasons Tenure
- 2006-2008; since 2014
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Executive Sous Chef, Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf
- Restaurant Terrazza Danieli at Hotel Danieli, Venice, Italy; Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf; Grand Hotel Quisisana, Capri, Italy; Don Alfonso Restaurant, Naples, Italy; Restaurant Giola, Milan, Italy; Felidia Restaurant, New York; Del Cambio Restaurant, Turin, Italy
- Turin, Italy
- Italian, English, French
The concept of “farm to table” is nothing new for Gian Nicola Colucci. “I grew up on a farm, and virtually everything on our table came from just outside the kitchen door,” he says, remembering the always-fresh vegetables and how his family made pastas, sauces and jams from scratch.
Now Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis overseeing the Hotel’s Italian restaurant Cielo as well as banqueting operations, he remains true to his roots as he works with the local farmers and producers of America’s Heartland. It’s his second move to the US, having worked with beloved Italian chef Lidia Bastianich at her flagship restaurant, Felidia, in New York early in his career. It was his first introduction to the American taste for Italian cuisine, providing an important foundation for his subsequent work at Italian restaurants catering to an international clientele.
Another important career milestone was his two-year stint at Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf, where he learned the business side of running a large culinary operation. “Anyone can learn to cook,” he says. “But managing a big team is another skill entirely. It’s not about being the boss – you have to have an open mind and encourage collaboration in the kitchen.”
Since joining Four Seasons in St. Louis, Chef Gian and his team have continued to evolve the menu at Cielo. In addition to weekly menus featuring different regions of Italy, he’s also added his own personal touches: “My dishes tell the story of my history as a cook and all the great chefs and restaurants I have been lucky to work with. The veal cutlet is done in the style of my home region of Lombardy, lightly breaded and served with capers and a Mediterranean sauce. The island of Capri inspires the swordfish with herbs on a bed of crispy onions, and the beautiful raspberry mousse with vanilla and biscuits evokes my time in Venice.”
The dish that’s really making waves among the city’s foodies? Chef’s signature rabbit agnolotti, delicate pillows of homemade pasta stuffed with tender meat and served simply with woodland mushrooms and braised greens. “Americans have always loved the familiarity and comfort of Italian food. Today, I think they appreciate the simplicity and freshness more than ever. My goal in every dish is for my guests to taste each ingredient and savour its unique flavour and scent, and appreciate where it came from.”
Two places guests are getting up close and personal with those ingredients are at the popular Chef’s Table, and on the Hotel’s pool terrace, where the Cielo team maintains a herb garden that also yields tomatoes and chilies – and perhaps more in the future. “When I first arrived they told me I couldn’t fill in the splash pool to add more vegetables,” he laughs. “But we’ll find a way to grow more – you’ll see!”
Chef Gian also enjoys the private events held in the Hotel’s Gaja Wine Room. “I grew up very close to the winery and know the Gaja family well. These are the wines I learned to cook with, and still favour now.”
His first experiences in a kitchen outside the family farm were at school as a teen, where his father was friends with the chef. He was encouraged to attend culinary school in Turin, and his first professional cooking experience was at the legendary Del Cambio restaurant, one of the oldest in the world. Eventually, he landed in Venice, where he led the team at the Restaurant Terrazza Danieli at Hotel Danieli, an establishment with a high percentage of American guests that in retrospect was the perfect prelude to his second move to the US, to St. Louis in 2014.
Farm life will always be important to Chef Gian, and he looks forward to introducing his baby daughter to area farmers and showing her where her food comes from as she grows up. In the meantime, he’s spending all his spare time learning more about American culture in the form of the city’s favourite past times – cheering on the Cardinals, Blues and Rams.