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Interview: Five Chef Giuseppe Pezzella on launching his Dubai restaurant in Zurich

Five Hotels & Resorts’ executive chef reveals what’s in store for the group’s debut in Europe

Giuseppe Pezzella had originally planned on going to university to study food science but after gaining some hands-on experience, and advice from his mentors, he went to culinary school instead. While there, the native of Sorrento, Italy honed his craft and began to develop the experimental style of cooking that has become his signature. 

Arriving in Dubai five years ago, Pezzella joined Five Hotels & Resorts to open Cinque at Five Palm Jumeirah, a fun-meets-fine dining destination inspired by flavours of the Amalfi coast. He went on to launch Trattoria by Cinque, a more laid-back, family-style Italian eatery, at Five’s second property in Dubai’s Jumeirah Village.

Now, a third iteration of the Cinque brand is on the cards – this time in Zurich, when the group opens its first European property next year. Connecting Travel asked Pezzella what we can expect from Zurich’s Cinque, part of a growing wave of restaurant exports from Dubai, and what will be on the menu in 2022 across his existing UAE portfolio.

Connecting Travel: How do you rate Dubai’s current F&B scene?
Giuseppe Pezzella: I think the food scene in Dubai has reached a very high level. We have very good chefs here and very good hotels and restaurants. We also have very famous chefs coming here.

I think Dubai is one of the best culinary cities in the world

Cinque at FIVE PalmCinque, Five Palm Jumeirah

CT:Has Dubai influenced your culinary style?
GP: Yes, of course. Since I came here I have discovered many spices and I’ve added some to my menu. For example, cumin – I use it to make jus, it’s very nice. I wasn’t used to this in Italy but it’s very good. It’s not always easy to mix; sometimes it’s a big risk but we’re working on it.

CT: How do you plan your menus in Dubai? 
GP: We start with the best available ingredients. The seasons are important to us, so I’m planning to change the menu four times a year. I think the difference is that in Europe you use local products that have been grown by local farmers. In Dubai, that’s not really possible to the same extent but it’s getting better.

Cinque's seasonal truffle menuCinque’s seasonal truffle menu

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CT:Five Zurich is expected to open in Q2 of 2022. Tell us about the new venue.
GP: The restaurant will be called Cinque at Penthouse. There will be two areas, a lounge and a small restaurant with 20 or 30 covers – it’s a very small, fine-dining concept. We’ll do a chef’s table, three set menus, a degustation menu and a small a la carte menu, and everything will change four times a year.

CT:That sounds like a lot of work.
GP: It is a lot of work but it’s very exciting to go back to Europe after five years in Dubai and start a new experience. 

CT:How will the culinary offering differ from that of the Dubai properties?
GP: It’ll be more modern in terms of cuisine. We’ll have a bit of Japanese-Italian fusion. We’ll have the private dining room, Cinque Studio, where we’ll do the degustation menus. Primarily, it will be Italian food, but with international influences here and there.

FIVE ZurichFive Zurich

CT:What inspired that fusion? Why not fully Italian cuisine?
GP: I spent some time in Japan so I’m very influenced by Japanese culture and I like  products from Japan. The concept comes from my experience. We’re going to do a set menu called Cinque Journey of My Life.

CT:Can we expect dishes and influences from anywhere else?
GP: Yes. Why not? I need to go there first and discover the products and all the dishes I can find there. For sure, we’ll take some inspiration from Zurich.

We’re going to do some dishes from Switzerland because there are a lot of beautiful products there

CT: Finally, what moment in your career has made you most proud?
GP: Opening Cinque in Five Palm Jumeirah was a big challenge. After that, I opened Cinque Trattoria at Five Jumeirah Village and now I have this new project coming soon in Zurich. So, there will be a third Cinque to be proud of. I remember saying to my old boss, ‘Maybe in the future, I can get my Michelin star’. That’s still a goal.

For more information, visit www.fivehotelsandresorts.com 

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