Amerigo Chef Steven Robilio is setting the table with locally-sourced fare.
Chef Steven Robilio has a long and personal history with food—a history that spans longer than he’s even been alive. As the Executive Chef at a favorite Nashville Italian spot, Amerigo, he brings years of fine dining experience and lifetimes of family culinary knowledge to all who walk through the door of the restaurant.
Robilio earned his degree in Culinary Arts from the New England Culinary Institution before working on the west coast and in his hometown of Memphis. He became immersed in the world of fine dining, which is something he now brings to the Nashville area in the form of monthly Farm Dinners at Amerigo. “Our menu for Amerigo is mostly set, but the farm dinners are my way to play,” he says with a smile. “I get to create something from scratch, and be a little more adventurous.”
Once a month, Robilio plans a full, 5-course meal—complete with drink pairings—to serve to a group of guests in a private room at Amerigo’s Cool Springs and Nashville locations. Of course, he puts plenty of thought into the flavors and combinations of the dishes he creates for these dinners, but he puts just as much time and effort into sourcing ingredients locally.
“We have so many great relationships with our farmers and other business owners in the area,” he says. “It’s really been mutually beneficial: we want to promote their businesses just as much as they want to talk about us.” In the nearly five years since he took over the position as Executive Chef at Amerigo, he’s built new relationships and bolstered existing ones with local produce and meat farmers, as well as nearby bakeries, dessert shops, and even specialty stores.
He always makes it a point to share his food sources with those who dine at Farm Dinners. “Before every course, I come in and describe what they’re eating, and I tell them if it came from Bear Creek Farms, or the Franklin Farmers’ Market, or wherever it may be,” he says, “I feel that it’s so important for people to know where their food came from, and to know where they can go right here in their own hometown to find good food and support their neighbors.”
Between his extensive culinary knowledge and the solid relationships he has with other business owners all over Middle Tennessee, Robilio can make a meal that truly provides the best of both world-class flavor and local influence. Once it’s time to start the prep work for his upscale dinners, he’s completely hands-on. Rather than delegating to his staff, he works in the kitchen to create the entire meal for Farm Dinners, from start to finish. Sometimes, he even draws inspiration from his own heritage. “I come from a family of Italians; my great grandfather came to the U.S. from Italy in the 1900s,” says Robilio. “I learned how to make pasta as a kid, and I’m still such a pasta guy.”
In fact, one of his proudest moments was using a family ravioli recipe in one of his Farm Dinners—a recipe that had been perfected in his family for more than 100 years. “It’s so rewarding to get to share that with people,” he said, adding that he took some extreme measures—like cooking portions of the recipe alone at 3 a.m.—so that he could assure his grandmother that the secret recipe itself was safe and sound.
His dedication to true culinary art is evident in everything he does, and he couldn’t be happier to share his love of food with others. “We all have a purpose, and I believe I was put here to cook.”
For additional information about Amerigo Chef Steven Robilio’s monthly Farm Dinners, please visit Amerigo.net.