Executive Chef Robert Maggi

June 27, 2016 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Editorial, Food, People | Tags: No tags found.

The Executive Chef at Armani’s selects The Chipotle Chicken Sandwich from AJ’s Press

Why is this the best thing you ever ate between two slices of bread?
The Chipotle Chicken Sandwich from AJ’s Press. The combination of ingredients on the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, pressed until the bread is golden brown, is mouthwateringly delicious.

How long have you been coming to AJ’s Press?
I’ve been coming here about a month now. My girlfriend and I try to find a new place to eat out once a week to try some of the local restaurants and support the community. AJ’s Press just stood out for us.

Fries or Chips?
I am a fan of chips to go along with my sandwich, not bagged, but fresh fried like at AJ’s. It adds some nice crunch to every sandwich – even more when you put them in the sandwich, which my son and I love to do.

Have you always enjoyed cooking?
I have always enjoyed cooking because I love to create art, and from my perspective, food is art. It has to taste just as beautiful as it looks.

What inspired you to become a chef?
The first time I saw someone enjoying my food. Seeing how happy they became – it was the greatest feeling in the world.

Was there one person who inspired you?
Chef Michael Von Burg made me the chef I am today. He was the one who gave me a chance when no one else would.

How would you describe the cuisine at Armani’s?
Modern Italian with a twist.

What’s one dish everyone should try at Armani’s?
Our Carbonara with fresh from Florida rock shrimp, smoky bacon and pancetta, finished with parmesan and egg yolks to give it some richness. At Armani’s we add fresh black pepper linguine to finish the dish with a little bite.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without in the kitchen?
Garlic. I can’t cook anything without garlic. It’s so versatile, from black garlic to elephant garlic and every kind in-between.

What’s the oddest dish you’ve ever made?
A Cantaloupe Burre Blanc, which sold very well.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t cooking?
I love to play video games, especially Super Mario Brothers, which my seven-year-old son loves as well. We get some father son bonding time.

Do you watch cooking competition shows?
I like Chopped best because you can see some wild ingredients and even more crazy ideas, which gets me even more inspired to create.

What’s the best thing about Tampa’s food scene right now?
Tampa’s food scene right now is very diverse. Just a couple of weeks ago I went to a grilled cheese festival to see what crazy concoctions Tampa could come up with. It was a blast. The best one was a grilled cheese with a Cheez-It crust and then fried.

AJ’s Press
4406 N. Cortez Ave, Tampa, FL 33614
(813) 870-0530