Chef Profile: Riccardo Canella


A New Culinary Era in Venice

A native Italian with global culinary influences, acclaimed chef Riccardo Canella has just been appointed Executive Chef of Hotel Cipriani, a Belmond Hotel in Venice. From his plans to boost local Lagoon traditions to his own cooking philosophy, discover what’s in store for this new Venice partnership.

Born in Northern Padua, Riccardo Canella’s exemplary career began in acclaimed, star-studded establishments in Italy before he arrived in Denmark. There, he began working in the kitchens of Copenhagen’s three-Michelin-starred Noma. Now he returns to the City of Water, armed with a passion for Venetian cuisine and lagoon culture. His team of loyal chefs join him in bringing his unique creative flair, dynamism and innovative skills to life at Hotel Cipriani.

Riccardo began his career at a young age, working alongside gastronomic gurus such as Gualtiero Marchesi and Massimiliano Alajmo. These masters impressed on him the need to pay dutiful attention to raw produce, unearthing the true essence of ingredients. During his seven years working for René Redzepi at Noma, he spent three years in the test kitchen. As such, he was part of the creative beating heart of a place that, time and again, has been named the World’s Best Restaurant.

Chef Canella says: “Returning to Italy, tiptoeing into my homeland, into a panorama as magical and mysterious as Venice, is the only road I would go down to test myself at this point in my career.” As he takes the helm at Hotel Cipriani’s dining outlets, including Michelin-starred Ristorante Oro, anticipate a fresh wave of culinary excellence on your next visit to our Giudecca legend.

Belmond: Are you excited about your return to Venice?

Riccardo Canella: Absolutely. I’m thrilled to return to Italy and an environment that reflects my roots. I’m looking forward to finding a new language to craft what I hope will be a new Italian cuisine. This is my idea. I’m super-excited and ready for this challenge. It holds deep meaning for me.

B: How do you feel about becoming Executive Chef of Hotel Cipriani?

RC: After Noma, choosing to become part of such a large brand as Belmond and such a legendary hotel as Hotel Cipriani is a way of leaving my comfort zone and facing a new challenge. I see great opportunity and the space to express myself. I’d like to add a bit of zing into the classical mix. I intend to use all of my knowledge, professionalism and talent to create a new gastronomic language.

B: How will your experience at Noma influence your new role in Venice?

RC: It will lead me to create something new. With my senses and sensitivity, I will design something innovative without losing sight of Hotel Cipriani’s hallowed history. My mantra is: “you can't know where you are going if you don't know where you come from”. I'm here in Venice to create something new.

B: So, your philosophy will be different?

RC: My philosophy will stay the same, but time and place will help me understand the direction I want to take.

B: Can you tell us a little about the ingredients you will use?

B: The cornerstones of my philosophy are: quality of ideas, of thought, of product and of execution. I intend to use the best that the lagoon microclimate has to offer, including products that are both popular and new, always depending on their quality at the time. There are so many unused ingredients for us to try.

B: Do you expect your appointment at Hotel Cipriani to inspire Venetians to try your cuisine?

RC: I hope so. How this evolution will take place I don’t know. At the moment I think the opposite may occur – the more visitors come to Venice, the more we will be able to attract local customers.

B: How will you inspire hotel guests who are not familiar with your food?

RC: I’m not going to be totally avant-garde. I’m going to focus on taste and the creation of a new Italian cuisine. I won’t create inaccessible dishes and if there’s a barrier of mistrust, it will be broken down by the exceptional lightness of my cuisine. I don't want to be pretentious.

B: Do you have a signature dish in mind?

RC: I’m not fond of labelling dishes, so I don’t set out to create signatures. If anything, it will be the guests who establish one.

B: And what about desserts? Can you give us any hints?

RC: Desserts must always be challenging, but at the same time indulgent. Ingredients are key. That’s all I’m saying at this point!

B: How do you enjoy your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

RC: I read and write a lot. I love art and find it inspirational, especially impressionism and contemporary art. I also play the drums and I find the binary form in music is very similar to the way I approach cooking.

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