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Have You Met Giovanni Pace?

Now that Giovanni Pace has a young daughter, this Executive Chef find that he is drawn to volunteering with those organizations that have children as their charitable focus. “As a young father I feel strongly about helping nonprofits that are helping children. Recently we have participated with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House Foundation, and Taste of the Nation. All of these groups are improving children’s lives.” Taste of the Nation is sponsored by Share Our Strength, which is dedicated to combating child hunger.

The Capital Grille and its parent company, Rare Hospitality, Inc, participate in many charity food events. “We usually contribute to be part of the event, pay the food costs, or sometimes rent our location. It takes a lot of planning and manpower to pull something like that off, so we want to make sure we participate with groups where the majority of the dollars are actually going to the charity and to the people who need it most.”

He continues, “I was amazed at the latest Taste of the Nation, held at the Venetian Resort in May, how lavish the program was. There were 25-30 restaurants represented, usually with their executive chef overseeing everything. And there was no holding back, the food was out of control, with expensive cuts of beef and Ahi tuna, the best there is. We served a Kona Rub filet, with shallot sauce. The quality of the event was amazing!

Giovanni himself has been cooking for 16 years, has been a chef for 8 years, and has been the Executive Chef at the Capital Grille, Biltmore location, for five years. “During my late teens I started cooking at the Ritz Carlton, and worked with some of the best chefs in the valley. Their passion and intensity were what inspired me. And now these are exciting times to be a chef: there are so many new tools out on the market, and new foods and killer ingredients are ever more available. Over the years I’ve witnessed the rise of the culinary industry into a rather glamorous occupation!”

Today Giovanni obtains his inspiration for cooking by reading a lot of cookbooks, trying different cuisine, and staying open for learning new things. “Right now I’m into Asian influences, and becoming more interested in baking and pastries. I want to stay current, but not totally trendy, in what I cook. Food for me has got to have history. Classics never go out of style.”

The Pace family moved to Phoenix from Pennsylvania when Giovanni was four years old. “ What I like best about Phoenix is that we get to experience the best of a lot of different places. We have mountains, rivers, many outdoor activities, and a great environment. There are also many exciting things to do, and the area is affordable. We’re also almost a hub for other great locations, as we’re near Mexico, California, and Las Vegas, not too far from any of them!” Besides his interests in travel and cuisine, Giovanni is an avid golfer, and spends time with his two and a half-year-old daughter.

Giovanni Pace brings his youthful enthusiasm and passion to both his vocation and the Phoenix nonprofit community. “ I believe we only live once, so go for whatever is your dream. Apply yourself totally, don’t hold back!”

What are your volunteer activities? I have been a part of various Share our Strength activities and The Ronald McDonald House.

Which social event is your favorite? Taste of the Nation

Favorite Restaurant? Ra at Kierland

Who is your hero and why? Gordon Ramsey. He is way deeper than people think just from Hell’s Kitchen. He has two other shows on the BBC that really show the depth of his passion. It reminds me not to worry about what people say about you just stay true to your passion and the right people will be there with you in the end.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? I met Alessandro Strata at Renoir in Vegas. He was the former Chef of Mary Elaine’s and was supposed to be one of the American Iron Chefs. That guy is first class. His food can make you humble in a hurry. I had dinner at Morimoto in Philly and Morimoto said hi to me at the bar, that was cool too. He is a favorite chef of mine, so seeing him in his own restaurant the one time I was there was pretty random.

If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Christopher Walken; he would make it funny.

What gives a woman/man style? Confidence

Do you have any Pets? Yes, three dogs; Chef (black Lab), Nelly (Rottie/pit), and Missy (one of their puppies).

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? Didn’t know the guy, he was always cooking or golfing.

What words describe you best? Passionate, driven, creative imagination.

What words would you like others to use to describe you? Mean, just kidding. I guess I would want people to say they know I am passionate about my work, and their success is very important to me.

What was your first job? Making sandwiches at Arby’s; not sure what kind of roast beef that was, but I definitely don’t use it these days.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Indulgence

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Unmotivated people drive me nuts. Make the best of what you've got and you'll prosper.

What is your greatest indulgence? Pizza

What is the greatest gift you have ever given and received? I don't know; one year I gave a family that worked for me some furniture that I was going to sell, but they had nothing. They invited me into their shack of an apartment, and cooked dinner and told me stories about their family in Mexico, that was a pretty good feeling. The birth of my daughter, Sophia Nina, was the absolute greatest gift I could ever receive.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My daughter

What is your current state of mind? Focused, maybe too much

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? My team at the Capital Grille continues to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack and if I have some influence in that it’s a pretty good achievement

What is your most treasured possession? Pictures from things I’ve done and places I’ve been. When I feel totally lost, I pull them out and do a little reflecting. Sometimes those pictures of people or places remind you of other things that happened around that same time, and you remember how strong you can be.

What is the quality you most like in people? Self-motivation. I respect people who push themselves because I know it’s not easy.

Favorite books / Writers? “What Einstein Told his Cook” is a top choice. I’m also reading “The Devil in the Kitchen” by Marco White, and it is great!

What is the best advice you have ever received? Focus on the goal, not the hazards .