Massimo Gavina and Michele Senigaglia, a passion for cuisine Featured

Two Italians find themselves right at home in Hong Kong, at Cucina and Spasso respectively.

Being far away from home takes on a unique meaning when you are from Italy. The passion for cuisine runs in the veins of Massimo Gavina, the General Manager of Cucina, and Spasso Executive Chef Michele Senigaglia. We find out why a perfect dining experience means so much to them.

“All the kitchen’s our stage” – at Cucina you can enjoy a different kind of evening. Massimo Gavina, General Manager, tells us what all the fun is about.

Why did you move to Hong Kong?
After having lived 15 years in the United States (where I worked for the well-known Bice and Da Silvano Restaurants in New York City) and four in Bali and Singapore (Lotus Group), I joined Cucina and contributed to its opening in December 2007.

What does it mean to present international cuisine under one roof at Cucina?

Cucina, which means both kitchen and cuisine in Italian, has two open kitchens. I find this concept challenging and exciting. The challenge is offering consistent quality of food and service every day to a very demanding and sophisticated clientele. The excitement is having fun along the way, while reinforcing our concept: the best of both Italian and Chinese cuisine. For the past few months, I have been collecting literally hundreds of congratulatory messages from guests who complimented our wonderful staff. I have never had that kind of response in 20 years in this Industry. I want all our guests to have such a "sparkling experience" at Cucina.

What are your favourite places in Hong Kong to eat/relax?
I love Central. This is where I live and relax. Among lots of places I visit, I wish to mention Solas for its music and vibe (60 Wyndham Street, Tel. +852 3162 3710), DiVino restaurant for the best Penne “Arrabbiata” pasta in the world (73 Wyndham Street, Tel. +852 2167 8883). Cucina, not because I manage this restaurant, has the best brunch, Zuma for Japanese cuisine (12-16 Des Voeux Road Central, Tel. +852 3657 6388) and Goccia for a “wild and healthy” after-hours fun (73 Wyndham Street, Tel. +852 2167 8181).

Cucina, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tel. +852 2113 0808

Spasso, which means “happiness” and “joy” in Italian, aptly describes this dining destination in Harbour City. Comfort, warmth and style characterize this rooftop restaurant which offers modern Italian cuisine created by Executive Chef Michele Senigaglia.

How did you decide to move here?

I had a phone call and three days later I was in Hong Kong. It is the crossroads between the Western and Asian culture. I love the spirit and heritage of Mainland China too.

What does it mean to present Italian cuisine in a city like Hong Kong?

The challenge is to offer an authentic cuisine that represents the best of Italian regional ingredients imported during their peak seasons; revised traditional recipes with a modern and simple approach, but most importantly, to find the harmony between tastes, textures and colors.

What summer dishes would you recommend to our readers?
Carpaccio. Whether it is thin slices of beef, crustaceans or fish, this dish has captured the imagination of chefs around the world, and is becoming a “classic” of international cuisine.

What are your favourite cuisines?
My favorite cuisine, after Italian, is Japanese for its philosophy of perfection and respect for raw ingredients. Next is Chinese and all other Asian cuisines. When I’m off from work, I visit other restaurants and enjoy gathering with friends. For casual dining, I usually go for dim sum or sushi. I’d go to European fine dining restaurants for special occasions and anniversaries.

Spasso, Shop 403, Level 4, Ocean Center, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tel. +852 2730 8027

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