Four Seasons Tenure
- First hired 2010; now since 2021
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Chef de Partie, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
- Hotel La Villa del Re, Costa Rei, Sardinia, Italy; Culinary Consultant Chef, Italy; Niko Romito, Bulgari Hotel, Beijing, China; Grupo Niko Romito, Castel di Sangro, Abruzzi, Italy; Four Seasons Hotel Milano; Four Seasons Hotel Firenze; Hotel Tosco Romagnolo, Bagno Di Romagna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy; L’Arsenale, Cavenago D’Adda, Lombardy, Italy; Parizzi, Parma, Emilia-Romagna; La Locanda delle Tamerici, Ameglia, Liguria, Italy; Tre Gigli All’Incoronata, Lodi, Lombardy; Osteria Il Volto, Iseo, Lombardy
- San Giorgio a Cremano (Naples), Italy
- Diploma, Culinary Arts and Related Services, A Tavola Con Lo Chef, Rome
- Italian, English
“My goal here is to create dishes the Italian way, using the best products I can find and turning traditions into unexpected experiences,” says Executive Chef Marco Veneruso of his mission to elevate the cuisine and dazzle palates at Four Seasons Hotel Prague. “I want our guests to be brave,” he continues, excitedly. “Even after many years in the kitchen, I am still discovering new things. This is the chance for them to do so, too.”
Appointed in fall 2021, Veneruso arrived in capital of Czech Republic fresh from a Michelin-starred turn leading an Italian hotel restaurant in the capital of China. The experience in Beijing opened his eyes to the culture and culinary traditions of Asia, as well as to the widespread popularity of his native cuisine. “Ingredients are always central to Italian cooking, and that translates in every corner of the globe.”
Veneruso’s first step in Prague was to fashion a new menu for the Hotel’s signature dining experience CottoCrudo, putting “modern spins” on dishes inspired by the cuisine of Southern Italy to let diners know that “Italian is about so much more than Carpaccio or gnocchi.” His John Dory with guanciale, caviar and Champagne sabayon is inspired by his love of French bubbly, while Duck plin ravioli with parmesan and black truffle was something he originally dreamt up for his wife, who hails from northern Italy, a region renowned for the highly prized fungi.
Every bite of crudo at CottoCrudo – oyster, salmon, langoustine and more – is marinated in salt and water and finished with the right touch of lemon to bring out its full flavour. The menu also features atypical combinations such as risotto with liquorice, pigeon and fruits, and caviar and lemon served in presentations that pop off the plate.
Born nearby Naples, Veneruso grew up in Ercolano, in the region of Campania, surrounded by sea and historical heritages sites. He is enamoured of the ingredients of Southern Italy, including dry pasta, abundant seafood, lemon and other citrusy fruits. His grandparents owned a farm, and every day after school and on summer breaks he was in the thick of it, selling produce and cooking with his grandmother from the age of eight. “I know it’s a cliché,” he recalls with a laugh, “but I really did learn a lot watching her in the kitchen.”
The flavours of the region left an indelible mark and continue to inspire his creativity. Most memorable is his special ingredient colatura di alici, a fish sauce made fermenting anchovies with rock salt for a month and uses in his signature Pasta Mista at CottoCrudo. “This was one of the first flavours I remember from my childhood.”
Veneruso began training while still in his teens at one of several Michelin-starred restaurants that shaped his career. He never minded the long hours, he says: “I’d work weekends, over vacations, whenever. I just wanted to one day be an executive chef with a star of my own.” After bouncing between jobs in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, he was offered years-long opportunities alongside Four Seasons legend Vito Mollica, whom he recalls as his mentor: first in Florence for five years then in Milan. In 2015 Mollica was appointed Executive Chef of both hotels, and promoted Marco Veneruso as the Resident Chef in the Italian capital of fashion.
After a dozen years in Italy, Veneruso knew the time was right to experience Asia, and he left the company for the Italian restaurant in Beijing, collaborating with a three Michelin starred Chef Niko Romito. “It was a beautiful experience,” he remembers. Following one more go at a small luxury hotel on the island of Sardinia, a friend at Four Seasons in Bangkok told him about the opening in Prague. “Short story: Here we are.”
The job of Executive Chef has changed of late, he says, noting that diners in Prague and elsewhere now desire to see, talk to, and even order directly from the leader of the kitchen. “It makes them feel more comfortable, knowing who is cooking and bringing in the ingredients.” Time spent with guests makes Veneruso feel more comfortable, too, offering a chance to promote his cuisine and discuss special requests.
Meanwhile, Veneruso is excited by what he has found ingredient-wise around Prague. “I really love to use local product, and I’m still discovering many interesting things,” he says, recalling, for instance, a local farm just outside of the city that is doing wonders with dry-aged meat. “We import some things, but if I can find the right product here, it’ll be good for our guests and good for the community.”
There is more than the signature restaurant on Veneruso’s plate in Prague. The Hotel’s seasonal dining spot MIRU offers what he calls “a pure Japanese experience” with just four tables on a terrace before a beautiful city view that inspired its name. He also has big plans for the terrace restaurant Piazzetta, where wood-grilled Italian specialties and icy gelatos are served from a food truck.
Away from work, Veneruso likes to spend downtime with his family, including his two young children. “We travel when we can, but honestly, I really enjoy investing my money locally for a new bottle of wine or dinner out.” The dining scene in Prague is impressive, more and more sophisticated and diversified, he says. “With what we’re doing at Four Seasons and other new hotels nearby, it’s getting very interesting here.”