The MasterChef Champ Shares His Cooking Inspiration

Most professionals, both in and out of the culinary world, can point to a single event that shaped their careers. Chef Dino Luciano went from self-proclaimed home cook to highly respected chef after winning Season 8 of MasterChef. Over the last two years, Dino has refined his craft, cooked in kitchens around the world, hosted pop-up-dinners and transformed the way the world thinks about vegan cuisine. 

Dino cooks for family, friends, and fans around the globe, but his love for food and cooking all started in his childhood home thanks to his mom and Nonna. 

"I picked up real interest [in cooking] between the age of 8-10.  Eventually, I realized that feeding people was a wonderful way to show them you love them.  I also needed to make sure that I was going to be ready to one day cook up the real gourmet for the love of my life," says Dino.

Dino is savant when it comes to vegan cuisine. From scallop-less scallops, to clam chowder without clams, it comes as no surprise that he preaches the importance of experimentation.

"Pick up different ingredients that you're unfamiliar with, & create new recipes from scratch.  There's no such thing as a failed dish, maybe inedible, but a lesson worth learning for sure.  I've had many trials & errors, but now I know exactly how to avoid those issues." 

Experimentation comes in many forms and is especially applicable to spices. Most of us are comfortable with the basics, but there is a certain joy that can be found in the less common flavors found in the spice aisle of the grocery store.

"Learn the various flavors of each & every spice that your local store has to offer.  This knowledge of spices can elevate any practical dish to the next level.  This is also an elegant way to cross different cultures in one dish, creating something new & refined," says Dino.

One last piece of advice? 

"Learn proper knife skills, first & foremost. This will prevent [you from] losing fingers. Invest in proper equipment - knives, utensils, & cookware. Personally, I choose pots & pans from Abbio...Unlike other nonstick pans, Abbio has lasted me through cooking at home & in the restaurant environment as well." 

Dino has been kind enough to share a Capellini recipe with us that he has been cooking since he was child in Brooklyn. This uncomplicated classic can also be made vegan with nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese.

Follow Dino on Instagram and Youtube to keep up with all of his adventures!