As the Executive Chef at Hilton Lake Como, Stefano Ghielmetti has mastered the art of incredible Italian cuisine. Leading a team of 22 people, he credits the experience as the key to keeping calm in the kitchen.

Stefano, tell us about yourself.
My name is Stefano Ghielmetti, and I’m the Executive Chef at Hilton Lake Como. I embarked on the culinary path when I was 27 years old. Before that, I was quite focused on pursuing a different career. I studied motor science and began my professional journey as a personal trainer and kinesiologist. Later, I moved abroad, and everything changed. I first went to Australia, where I stayed for a year and began working in a pizzeria. Then, I traveled around the world, from London to Dubai, where I refined my culinary techniques and knowledge.

Seam bream carpaccio
Seam bream carpaccio

Did you have an influence in your youth that shaped your career path?
I have always had a passion for cooking. I’ve enjoyed watching my mother cook since I was a young child, and as I got older, I started to practice at home by preparing dinner for my family. My brother had little interest in cooking, but I was passionate about it, so I continued to practice and get better at it. My mom got me a recipe book for my ninth birthday, which she used as a source of inspiration. I read it right away and put some of the advice to use since I was so excited. I used to enjoy baking a lot, especially cakes, tarts, and pastries. I also enjoyed making kinds of pasta and risotto, among other traditional Italian dishes.

Black Cod
Black Cod

You work in an incredible environment – at the stunning Hilton Lake Como in Italy. What is that experience like for you?
After an extended period of working abroad, I made the decision to return to Italy, driven by a desire for fresh challenges and a longing to reconnect with my family and friends. I started my journey at Hilton Lake Como as Sous Chef and after one year I’ve been promoted to Executive Chef. My international background has shaped my culinary philosophy, indeed in the menu, it is possible to find Italian dishes revisited with ingredients from other cuisines.

I’m always keen to find local partners and zero-kilometer products directly from the Lake.

Today I am Executive Chef and I’m leading a team of 22 people from chefs to stewards, ensuring the smooth operation of every aspect of the hotel’s culinary offerings, including breakfast, in-room dining, Terrazza 241, Streetfood restaurant, banqueting, and the team member canteen. Through collaboration with my dedicated team, we have achieved significant milestones, of which I am immensely proud.


Which essential tools are you lost when it comes to cooking?
There are two objects that I can’t live without: my pliers and my temperature-measuring implement, which I always keep in my uniform pocket which we have named “Graziano”.

How do you stay calm in the kitchen while managing your team?
Experience holds the key. I have experienced many different situations, and I have come to the conclusion that losing your temper is not the best approach to stand out because you run the risk of doing the exact opposite. Rather, the finest team leader is the one who communicates confidence and control via experience.


Do you have a favorite dish to prepare?
A dish that I am fond of is definitely lobster ravioli, an old memory from when I worked for Gordon Ramsey. It reminds me of my grandparents’ house where I used to spend Sundays preparing homemade pasta.

Are there any signature dishes on the menu that have become a staple?
The signature dish at Terrazza 241 is Lobster Spaghettoni, very much appreciated by our guests, especially during the summer. That’s why we always keep this dish on our à la carte menu. Another timeless dish is our Tiramisù, an iconic Italian dessert that every guest visiting Italy cannot miss.

You host a Culinary Masterclass at Hilton Lake Como. Please tell us more.
We offer our guests the opportunity to learn the secrets and techniques needed to craft perfect pasta. From achieving the optimum thickness and ‘al-dente’ bite, mastering flavor combinations, and even discovering the odd family secret passed down through the generations, they will learn to make and cook their own fresh pasta (usually, tagliatelle), the old-fashioned way. Afterward, they are invited to the restaurant where they can taste their pasta. This experience is greatly appreciated because it allows our guests to better understand Italian culinary traditions while having fun.

Italy is world-renowned for being the pasta capital of the world. Is there a wrong way to make, what is essentially a simplistic dish?
Without any doubt – throwing pasta into a pot when it has not reached the proper boiling temperature, which is a minimum of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius – because then the pasta gets stuck. Another common mistake is to break up spaghetti before putting it in the pan. But also saw some classic recipes completely overturned, such as the famous carbonara.

And pizza! What is the secret to the perfect pizza?
The dough is the beating heart of every pizza, the foundation on which every other component stands. The perfect balance of flour, water, salt, and yeast, can transform the dough into a light, fluffy, and fragrant base.