An italian meal to support mental health

Chef Tyler Uguccioni, along with a variety of current and past students from the Coast Mental Health Culinary Program will be serving a dinner benefitting the program at Social Crust Café on Feb. 27.

The menu will consist of four courses, including hand-rolled pici pasta with mushrooms as well as flank steak with gremolata and winter vegetables.

Currently the Chef de Cuisine at Gastown staple Di Beppe, Uguccioni shares his thoughts about his food journey, Italian cuisine, and the upcoming fundraiser.

Inside a chef’s world

When walking into Di Beppe, one can’t help but feel the Italian disposition overtake them. The ambiance feels freshly authentic, yet Uguccioni says his relationship with the cuisine comes from his experience in the kitchen rather than exposure to Italian culture growing up. Fortunately, he has much experience, having worked for multiple Italian restaurants, and enjoys the delicious simplicity of the cuisine.

Heartwarming Italian recipes on the menu.

As many chefs have, Uguccioni began his career as a university student, washing dishes to earn money during his studies in Ottawa. Feeling confused with the direction his education was taking, he decided to move to British Columbia for a ski-season to assess his future from a mountaintop vista, working in the meantime as a line cook. He enjoyed the culture, teamwork and creativity of the kitchen life and ultimately decided to return to Ottawa to pursue culinary school at the Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, with plans to return to Vancouver in the future.

The chef enjoyed attending culinary school in Ottawa and relishes that the food scene there has changed significantly over the past decade toward smaller restaurants with more diverse inspirations and higher quality food.

“There is definitely more variety here,” he says, adding that the close availability of fresh and different ingredients in Vancouver creates a separate atmosphere for the culinary universe than what he learned cooking in his hometown.

Uguccioni has been working at Di Beppe for just over a year, after interviewing around the city upon his return to Vancouver. With so many options in this part of the country, he wanted to make sure that the community and physical space of the restaurant he chose fit with his personality and ethos in the kitchen.

When asked what one can do if they want to elevate their Italian home cooking, he replies that “fresh, high quality ingredients are key,” noting that a home cook can create great food just by investing in an above standard olive oil or even just an assortment of fresh herbs.

Chef Tyler Uguccioni.

He has ambitious plans for Di Beppe, wanting to move even further toward authentic Italian dining in the same vein as their sister restaurant, Ask For Luigi. Uguccioni notes certain logistical difficulties in providing diners with these options, such as space and cost constraints.

“We have twice the number of people dining here, so it can be challenging but we do want to move more in that direction,” he says.

He also expresses his enthusiasm for the Coast Mental Health cause as well as working with the culinary students. His goal is to be able to guide the students and have them experience the passion of creating a four-course dinner service for a roomful of patrons.

Former studen Frank Roberts shares his enthusiasm for the project.

“I am very excited and happy to be given the opportunity to work with Chef Tyler and a bunch of great people,” he says.

For more information regarding the event, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/guest-chef-night-ft-di-beppe-tickets-90330471873

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