Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly “27 Questions” column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same amount of time it takes to sit through a 2-minute speed date.

Like many culinary masters who call Hong Kong home, chef Angelo Agliano is a passionate mariner — the son of a fisherman born with sea salt in his bones. It makes sense why, of all the possible locales in Asia, the award-winning Sicilian chef landed here — an international trading hub as literally and metaphorically connected to the ocean as he is.

Recently signed on as the new culinary director at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred Tosca, Agliano creates vibrant, visually sumptuous dishes that honour seafood’s elemental flavour and the timelessness of Sicilian cooking. “My philosophy is to stay true to the original tastes and traditional recipes from my childhood,” says Agliano, “[but we’re translating] them into the elegance of a fine dining restaurant.”

That abiding respect for ingredients in their essential form is an impulse the newly-minted Tosca capo has nurtured for decades. Among a handful of Robuchon disciples who now preside over Hong Kong’s fine dining scene, Agliano has nearly 10 years of experience in Asia (he was responsible for opening both the Hong Kong and Taipei outposts of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). He’s a chef who’s deeply committed to enriching the culture of sophisticated yet unostentatious Italian food in Hong Kong. We sat down with Agliano for a quick pre-service chat to talk guilty pleasures, Italian sparkling, and how doing a simple thing well is harder than it looks.

27 Questions

Name: Angelo Agliano

Age: 42

Neighbourhood: Happy Valley

Occupation: Director of Tosca di Angelo, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

1. What is your life motto?

“Freedom forever!”

2. What is the best meal you've ever eaten in Hong Kong

Fine Chinese, particularly the bao zi (steamed buns) at Lung King Heen.

3. Who is your role model?

Vito Corleone, otherwise known as “The Godfather”.

4. What was your first job?

I started apprenticing in the kitchen when I was 14.

5. What is your drink of choice?

Champagne! Or any good Italian brut such as Bellavista.

27 Questions
Sicilian-style Hamachi Carpaccio with Ossetra caviar.

 

6. When was the last time you drove a car?

Around two months ago whilst I was back in Sicily.

7. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?

My sofa — it’s extremely comfortable and the most relaxing spot in my apartment.

8. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Seeing as I’m always in the kitchen, a night owl for sure. If I could avoid mornings altogether, I would!

9. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pasta. With a sauce of fresh tomatoes and olive oil.

10. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?

The humidity — it’s intolerable.

11. What is the top destination on your bucket list?

Australia, because I’ve never been. I’ve always dreamt about working on a farm for 6 months and Australia is the perfect destination for me to do that.

12. How often do you prepare your own meals?

Daily.

27 Questions

13. When did you last ride the Star Ferry? What were you doing? Where did you go?

A few weeks ago. I was taking the Italian food critic Andrea Petrini to Lamma Island.

14. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Enjoying a pizza with a bottle of red wine, all by myself.

15. What is your greatest fear?

Natural disasters — such as a tsunami or earthquake.

16. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?

My days cooking in Paris.

17. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

Al Pacino, Tom Cruise, Marlon Brando, Sylvester Stallone and Robbie Williams.

18. Where do you go when you want to be alone?

I grew up near the Mediterranean Sea, so I always love being close to the ocean when I want to be alone with my own thoughts.

19. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?

“Dynamic.”

27 Questions

20. What's your favourite childhood memory?

I think often about those days when I’d go fishing with my father — he was a fisherman by trade. He taught me a lot about seafood, umami and the fruits of the ocean.

21. What is one thing you've never revealed to your parents?

I actually never reveal any bad news to them [laughs]! To the extent that I don’t even tell them when I’m sick — I don’t want them to worry.

22. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?

The smell of the ocean — that salty, refreshing scent I wake up to when I’m in Sicily.

23. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?

I’d like to think so, yes. I’m very proud of my risotto.

24. Who is the best teacher you've ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?

I’ve had various mentors throughout the different stages of my career. When I first got into the trade, my teacher from cooking school taught me the fundamentals of being a chef. Then, I met maestro Robuchon of course, who helped open my eyes. One of the greatest lessons I learned from him is that “it’s much more difficult to do simple things right”.

27 Questions
Spaghetti Mancini with Hokkaido uni & fresh wasabi – an Agliano signature.
25. Do you have a catchphrase?

“Ciao.”

26. How many countries have you been to?

I’ve travelled pretty extensively throughout Europe — maybe 10 different countries. Within Asia, I’ve been to five or six.

27. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?

I’d definitely rather be alone for the rest of my life — for me, freedom is everything.

27 Questions

Tosca di Angelo, 102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2263 2270

Randy Lai
Watches Editor
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.