"Cooking is also a discipline which is good to learn, allows you to emphasise your creativity and you can also leave a legacy."
Alfonso Cornelio is head chef at Justino’s in Aigburth, south Liverpool. He loves nothing better than working in a thriving kitchen, overseeing his team prepare creative dishes using the best quality ingredients and enjoys constantly working on new ideas.
“For me it’s my calling. It doesn’t feel like work when I cook because it’s what I love to do. Being surrounded by a good team, the best ingredients and lovely customers who appreciate an equal love of the same passion for food and drink.
“Given how important good food is in order to sustain us both physically and mentally, maybe you can understand why it’s my passion and purpose in life to produce the best in what I’m working with.
“I feel totally in flow when I’m cooking. It’s the same when I cook at home. Time seems to just disappear every time I’m in the kitchen and I imagine others who enjoy cooking feel the same. You get so consumed both by the preparation and the results and then there’s the best bit…sharing with family, friends and customers for all the feedback. It’s very rewarding. That’s not to say it isn’t hard work. It is but that’s because you want to always do your best…for yourself and others you are making food for.
“Cooking is also a discipline which is good to learn, allows you to emphasise your creativity and you can also leave a legacy. When you become a good cook, you can pass that on to your children and they will talk about you favourably forever!
“Right now, I feel even more gratitude for being able to work and pursue my passion as so many haven’t been able to do that. At least we are getting visibly closer to Spring and hopefully being able to look after customers in Justino’s again soon. We’ve been really busy with takeaway orders and deliveries but we’ve ceased that now because we’re focussed on working hard to make sure our restaurant operation is ready for our April 12th return. All we want to do is see each other again! It’s going to be emotional.”
Alfonso also shared his favourite kitchen tips with Entirely Food as follows:
Be creative in the kitchen but always do it within reason! Menu items are often based on tried and tested recipes and deviating too much will cause you to waste your ingredients!
Don’t get distracted when you’re cooking. It does require focus so looking at your mobile phone ‘a social channels with funny Memes or things that take you away from the process in hand is not a good idea. Think about the last time you burnt the toast!
Use the best quality ingredients you can find and try and ensure they are local. It will always show in the taste of your dishes.
Don’t reduce the nutritional benefits by adding artificial ingredients or too much sugar or salt.
Many recipes can be tweaked by looking at them culturally instead. For example, if you have a favourite Italian dish, explore how it’s cooked in different regions of Italy, for example, in Sicily versus Milan.