Vinson Petrillo of Zero George Street Hotel and Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 USA region finalist. The young executive chef will showcase his signature dish of Pressurise octopus, chorizo, “Parsley” wagyu cheek agnolotti, octopus ink emulsion at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June. He spoke to us ahead of the big event where he will be present together with his mentor, chef Wylie Dufresne.
Tell us about your signature dish.
It represents the chefs who taught me about proper textures, balanced flavours, plating styles and creative techniques. The pressure-cooked octopus has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The pasta dough represents chefs Mark Vetri and Chris Cippilone, who I greatly admire. It’s complex, yet simple, which I learned from David Daniels.
What made you decide to become a chef?
It was a holiday tradition for my father and me to cook together, and it inspired my interest to begin cooking professionally. At 14 I began cooking in restaurants. The pressure, responsibility, and excitement of creating new dishes has been a part of my life ever since.
Which chef or chefs inspire you daily and why?
Kyle McClelland, Chris Cippilone and Franklin Becker. Each one is completely different. Kyle and I worked together for about 6 years before opening a restaurant together in Brooklyn. Franklin Becker taught me how to run a restaurant. And I worked with Chris Cippilone or about a year, but we still keep in touch.
What’s the best dish you’ve ever tasted - where did you eat it, who cooked it?
Three dishes: 1) King crab done 4 ways at Fuleen in china town. 2) “King Oyster Udon” with sweetbreads and banana by my mentor for this competition, Chef Wiley Dufresne. 3) Raw and smoked Nordic fish with Danish oyster and chervil cream, at Dragshlom Slot in Denmark.
What’s the most challenging aspect of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for you?
I have always been a planner, but when it comes to the competition in Milan, I’m just not sure what to expect. Not knowing exactly what is going to happen is my biggest challenge.
What kind of help/guidance would you like from your mentor?
I would like to know what he liked and did not like on the dish. Chef Wiley (Dufresne) is known for his transformation of ingredients. I very much look forward to the opportunity of working with him, and I will use his direction as a tool for my dish.
What will you do if you win this competition?
If I win this competition I intend to spend a couple of weeks eating my way through Italy and other parts of Europe. Then I will continue to do what I do every day: work hard and make great food.