Executive Chef Luigi Shimaj attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Florence, Italy, graduating with a diploma of Classic Italian Alto Cuisine. His experience in the culinary industry includes cooking in top restaurants throughout Italy and Houston for nearly 20 years. Chef Shimaj’s culinary ambitions were developed at a young age. His mother’s cooking and his immersion in Italian culture impacted his culinary point of view, to the extent that the flavors of his mother’s dishes and Italian ristorantes and trattorias can be tasted throughout his menu.
How’d you learn to cook?
I learned how to cook from my mother, Maria, around the age of 14. I then went to culinary school at Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Florence, Italy, and that is when I began to cook
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a professional soccer player.
What ingredient can you not live without in the kitchen and why?
Salt and pepper because you must season your food. Seasoning is very important and something that you cannot live without.
What utensil can you not live without?
I cannot live without a nice sharp knife in the kitchen. When you have good tools, then you can do excellent work.
Favorite affordable wine?
My favorite wine of all time is Cocchi Barolo Chinato. Living in Tuscany, they have an excellent selection of meats, which this wine pairs fantastic with.
Is there a food you won’t eat?
I eat everything. I like to at least try every food at least once. It is a part of being a chef; you are supposed to be able to try all types of food.
What is your comfort food?
Fresh pasta is my go-to meal. Every time that I eat fresh pasta, it makes me feel overall better. You cannot go wrong with it.
What do you see as the next food trend?
I see the next food trend being advanced modifications on established food.
Who are your favorite chef, restaurant and dish?
My favorite chef would have to be Chef Hori at Kata Robata. I love his selection of the seafood dishes that he offers. They are truly one of a kind.
What would people be surprised to find in your home refrigerator?
My family eats out a lot so there are a ton of to-go boxes full of leftover food in my refrigerator. You have 10 bucks until payday.
What impressive meal could you make with it?
I could make pasta with fresh tomato and basil. It is the best thing that you can ever have. It is simple and delicious, and it will cost you very little money to be full.
51fifteen Cuisine & Cocktails
5175 Westheimer Road, 2nd Floor Saks Fifth Avenue − The Galleria | Houston, Texas 77056
713.963.8067 | www.51fifteen.com