Born and raised in Senigallia, Italy, Chef Giacomo Pasquini knows the benefit of using fresh, seasonal ingredients in his dishes. Growing up along the Adriatic Coast in the Marche region of Italy, cooking with local ingredients from both the land and sea was customary for Giacomo and his family. This passion for food came at a young age with Giacomo starting an apprenticeship at 14 at a local seafood restaurant in his hometown. His culinary journey brought him through different regions working with some of Italy’s top chefs and also traveling through Spain before ultimately ending up in Toronto. At Vertical Restaurant, located in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District, Giacomo focuses on fresh cooking by staying true to his philosophy of using seasonal and local ingredients. This includes herbs that are grown in the restaurant’s own garden located right outside the restaurant. Giacomo’s seasonal menu is inspired by the different regions of Italy with a focus on simplicity and freshness.
Giacomo uses familiar ingredients from his childhood that are also prominent seasonal ingredients in many parts of Canada. In his appetizer below, Giacomo uses scallops from Digby Nova Scotia, and red Ontario beets for a zesty and tasty Scallop Crudo. Digby scallops are a representation of the fine seafood that could be found off the Adriatic Coast where Giacomo grew up, and beets are a bright and healthy farm fresh ingredient grown right in Ontario.
Inspired by his time in Spain, this refreshing and cool gazpacho can be your summer substitute for a warm tomato sauce. Fresh Ontario Roma tomatoes were used for a tomato gazpacho to create delicious cold pasta for the beach or the patio. This dish reminds Giacomo of lunches on the beaches of Senigallia he used to enjoy with his family while growing up. Using Barilla Spaghettoni, dungeon crab and herring caviar, Giacomo creates a fresh, elegant entrée that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner. Nasturtium leaves are used in his Spaghettoni Barilla “Freddo” to open up the palette with a peppery flavour. Giacomo is also keen on using every part of his ingredients whether it’s produce or meat. When using a plant, or flower like Nasturtium, try using the stem in addition to just the leaf.
For his desserts, Giacomo is a lover of dark chocolate. Using Ontario strawberries, Giacomo creates a decadent Chocolate Tortino soaked in bottlegreen Elderflower Cordial with chocolate truffles and basil. Elderflowers bloom in June, making then a perfect addition to summer recipes like this chocolate dessert. Traditionally, this recipe would often incorporate apple slices as opposed to strawberries, but Giacomo says that recipes are never recreated, just modified to fit with the local produce and ingredients available.
Using seasonal ingredients isn’t just important in what you eat, but also what you drink. Good quality liquors, mixes and garnishes can make the cocktail something worth drinking. Vertical’s General Manager and mixologist Stefano Scodellaro creates this signature cocktail using bottlegreen Pomegranate & Elderflower Sparkling Pressé and distilled Ontario-family owned Dillon’s Rose Gin. Garnished with organic grapefruit mint leaves grown in house at Vertical Restaurant and a thinly sliced cucumber garnish, A Rose is A Rose is a truly memorable summer beverage.
Photos by pomoBoho Media