Side Dish: Chef Luciano DelSignore is a swell guy

click to enlarge Luciano DelSignore. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Luciano DelSignore.

He's known as one of the foremost chefs in the region for his simple yet elegantly executed Italian cuisine at the upscale Bacco Ristorante in Southfield and a growing number of casual Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina pizzerias.

His imprint on the local dining scene can be felt by the many rising stars he's taken under his wing over the years, including chefs James Rigato (Mabel Gray, the Root), Andy Hollyday (Selden Standard), and Douglas Hewitt Jr. (Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails). In fact, he's known as "The Godfather" for his general badassery.

But aside from being an inspiring talent, Luciano DelSignore is also an overall good dude. When an earthquake devastated central Italy earlier this year, he mobilized dozens of other chefs throughout metro Detroit and beyond to raise money to assist the affected residents of the town of Amatrice — one of many charity dining events he's known to throw among his all-star brethren.

He dishes on his drool-worthy guilty pleasures, what excites him most in the Michigan food landscape, and the little things that help him stay on track.

Metro Times: What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did?

Luciano DelSignore: That I try to help people in need. Whether it's dropping off food to a family during a crisis or spending a morning with my daughter feeding the homeless in our city. I truly am grateful for what I have, and make a real effort to give back.

MT: What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?

DelSignore: Going through the car wash first thing in the morning. It sets the pace of keeping my day clean and organized.

MT: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

DelSignore: Mind-reader. Boy, would that be a hoot!

MT: What is the most positive thing in food or drink that you've noticed in Detroit over the past year?

DelSignore: How our new breed of chefs are taking Michigan agriculture seriously. It's a great boost for our local economy.

MT: Who is your Detroit food crush?

DelSignore: Paul Grosz, he's old-school like me, and is still around making a difference.

MT: Who's the one person to watch right now in the Detroit dining scene?

DelSignore: My executive chef at Bacco Ristorante, Anthony Lombardo. He just moved back to Detroit after making some waves in the Washington, D.C., food scene. He's an amazing personality with limitless energy who is rich in talent.

MT: Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?

DelSignore: Chile pepper, because it's spicy and versatile — like me!

MT: If you weren't working in the restaurant business, what would you be doing?

DelSignore: I'd be lost. I absolutely can't imagine doing anything else in my life.

MT: Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen.

DelSignore: Soy sauce. There's absolutely no way to incorporate it in Italian cooking!

MT: What is your after-work hangout?

DelSignore: My home kitchen. I get home late, and it's a true chef's kitchen that I can test new recipes out in a quiet environment.

MT: What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure?

DelSignore: A blanket of Alba white truffles over risotto parmigiana, and a really good Barolo. Even though I serve truffles at Bacco in October, November, and December, I only treat my family and friends to this splurge around Christmas to keep it special.

MT: What would be your last meal on Earth?

DelSignore: Hand-cut pasta made with local eggs tossed in a fresh tomato basil sauce, sun ripened from my garden. It's the truly simple meals in life that give me the most pleasure.

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