Chef Luciano Schipano Hones His Culinary Skills to Promote Italian Cuisine

Photo of Chef Luciano Schipano

By Rosanna Caira

Luciano Schipano has always had a deep-rooted passion for food and the joy it brings to people’s lives. From a young age, the chef was drawn to the kitchen, thanks in part to his mother’s singing and whistling as she cooked, his grandfather’s incredible fire-cooking skills, and his uncle’s love for grilling meat. “I was surrounded by amazing individuals who shared their love for cooking and the beauty of sharing a meal with loved ones.”  

But his natural outgoing personality and his penchant for interacting with people meant he initially saw himself working in the front of house, “engaging with customers and making their experience enjoyable.”  

Time on his family’s farm also allowed him to cultivate “a deep appreciation for animals and witnessing first-hand the satisfaction of growing and harvesting plants. It was during these moments that I realized my true calling — to become a chef and use my talents to show people how a simple ingredient can be transformed into a delicious meal. From then on, I dedicated myself to honing my culinary skills and learning as much as I could about Italian cuisine.”

These days, Schipano is putting those skills to good use, melding his passion for food and his love of people into a career as both a chef and business owner. “My true joy came from not just cooking, but also telling stories and creating memorable experiences for my diners. This led me to open multiple businesses, each with its own unique concept and menu, but all with the same goal of bringing people together through food and storytelling. Being a chef and business owner has allowed me to combine my passions for food and people, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love every day. I hope my dishes not only nourish people’s bodies, but also their souls, and that they leave my restaurants with unforgettable memories.”

Born in Toronto, Schipano spent most of his childhood in Calabria where his parents returned in 1982 after emigrating to Canada in 1975.  “My passion for cooking started at a young age, and after finishing highschool, I attended IPSSAR in Soverato, a highschool/trade school specializing in culinary arts,” says Schipano, who these days leads Ristorante Boccaccio in the Columbus Centre, an Italian cultural centre located in Toronto. Schipano also serves as the president of the Italian Chefs Association and runs a catering business.   

In addition to a culinary education, the chef also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a major in Tourism and a Master’s degree in Science with a major in Tourism and Demographic Studies. “This combination of knowledge and skills has helped me to not only excel in my culinary career but also understand the business side of the hospitality industry.”

Schipano’s cooking philosophy is driven by simplicity and seasonality. “I believe in showcasing the true flavours of ingredients without unnecessary distractions. My mandate as the executive chef of Boccaccio is to provide guests with a classic cuisine that stays true to its roots while still tantalizing the tastebuds.”

The chef prides himself on using locally sourced and fresh ingredients. “This not only guarantees the best quality but also supports our community and reduces our ecological footprint. We take a traditional approach to cooking, making everything from scratch, including fresh pasta, focaccia, mozzarella, burrata, and even using my mother’s extra virgin olive oil from our family estate in Calabria. I want guests to have more than just a meal; I want them to have a memorable experience. By combining simplicity, seasonality, and the best local ingredients, we strive to provide our guests with a taste of authentic Italian cuisine that will transport them to the rural landscapes and bustling markets of Italy.”

As a restaurant located inside a cultural centre, Boccaccio boasts 102 seats amidst a modern and simplistic design,” making it the perfect spot for gathering and enjoying a delicious meal. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, closing on Mondays and holidays, “because our staff deserves some well-deserved time off.”

The restaurant’s style “is rooted in traditional Italian cuisine, utilizing fresh and high-quality ingredients to create bold and flavourful dishes. It’s no surprise that some of our most popular menu items include our homemade burrata and zucchini fritters, as well as our Carbonara and scialatielli seafood pasta. For entrées, our branzino gratinato and braised lamb shank are crowd favourites.” And, no meal would be complete without guests indulging in a classic tiramisu or gelato affogato for dessert.

As a disciple of Italian cuisine, Schipano is “thrilled to witness the evolution of Italian food. It’s a cuisine loved by everyone because it’s simple, comforting and full of flavour. However, with the rise of Americanized versions of Italian dishes and the lack of authentic Italian chefs, I’ve been challenged to stay true to the roots of this beloved cuisine.” That’s why Schipano is committed to using the best quality ingredients and traditional cooking methods to keep the true taste of Italy alive. “Authenticity is key and I’m passionate about sharing the true flavours of Italy with the world.”

In addition to his role at the Boccaccio Restaurant, which serves as the cornerstone of his business, Schipano also runs Culinarium, a cooking school and small event space he founded to share his knowledge and skills with aspiring chefs and food enthusiasts. “It serves as a creative space for culinary classes and pop-up events; Caffe Cinquecento, my cozy coffee shop, bistro, and pizzeria, which has become a popular hangout spot for foodies in the neighbourhood and a catering company, Chef Luciano Schipano, “catering events of all sizes, bringing a taste of Italy to any occasion.”

And, if that’s not enough to keep him busy, he also manages the school cafeteria at De La Salle College in Toronto where he focuses on providing healthy, quality meals to students. During the summer months, he organizes culinary tours to Italy, specifically focusing on discovering the hidden gems of Calabria and soon Sicily.  “It’s a unique experience that truly immerses food enthusiasts in the authentic flavors and traditions of Italy.”

As for the future, Schipano is determined to continue to focus on maintaining the high standards he’s set and being open to new opportunities. “I see myself as more than just a chef, but as a servant to my community, always striving to deliver the best experience for my customers. With a strong passion for cooking and entrepreneurship, I will continue expanding my presence in the culinary world — whether through opening new restaurants, collaborating with other chefs, or participating in events.” At the same time, he’s committed to “maintaining the excellence and authenticity of Italian cuisine that my brand is known for.” Ultimately, he says, his goal is to leave a positive impact on the world through food and hospitality. “Through my love for cooking and dedication to serving my community, I have the potential to make a difference.”

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