Cecconi cooks up a storm in Top 40

Talking to Paul Cecconi, you soon become aware he is a chef as passionate as any you would meet in a Parisian restaurant.

Paul Cecconi

Paul Cecconi

Talking to Paul Cecconi, you soon become aware that behind the easy smile and cheerful voice lies a chef as passionate as any you would meet in a Parisian restaurant.

“I’ve always held a high standard for myself, I push myself pretty hard. I am a perfectionist,” said Cecconi, who opened Brodo Kitchen in Penticton on May 17, 2013.

Cecconi is the latest nominee in the Top 40 under 40 campaign, sponsored by the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, highlighting 40 of the community’s top young entrepreneurs.

But Cecconi’s passion for the food created at Brodo Kitchen is where the similarity to Parisian restaurants ends. With a motto of “Simply Fresh Food,” Cecconi created a place where people can hang out and feel comfortable enjoying a good meal.

“It’s not pretentious,” said Cecconi. “That’s what I am striving for, simply fresh, honest food.”

Besides good food and good music, the decor adds to the comfortable atmosphere.

That extends beyond the family-sized table made from recycled timbers and reclaimed farm items in the seating area to pallets used on accent walls in the bathrooms and old dressers cut out for the sinks.

“We call it farmhouse industrial. We utilize a lot of reclaimed lumber,” said Cecconi. “Just cool little finishing touches.”

Soups are at the core of the Brodo menu, fitting for a chef who won the Stone Soup competition in 2010 and 2011.

But naming the restaurant proved to be a challenge. Brodo Kitchen was selected from more than 100 that he and his wife Holly considered.

“It wasn’t an easy process. Our concept is soup, but I didn’t want to be pinned down to that’s all we serve,” he said.

“Brodo means broth in Italian; and we wanted something short and sweet, something catchy.”

Brodo is Cecconi’s first venture by himself, but it follows on more than a quarter-century experience with food.

“I started in kitchens when I was 12 in North Vancouver,” said Cecconi, who took the culinary program at Vancouver Community College after high school.

That was followed by working in restaurants at the Four Seasons Hotel in both Vancouver and Australia, before finding his way to Kelowna and the Harvest Golf Club restaurant.

“I was chef there for almost seven years,” he said.

“From there, Harry McWatters and family got in touch with me to help them open Local Lounge and Grill in Summerland. I came down there and moved with the family.”

Cecconi was executive chef at Local Lounge for four years, before he decided it was time for his own place. Originally, he thought it would be in Kelowna.

But after living in Summerland for the last four years and loving the area, he and Holly decided to do some research on Penticton and see if there was a need for what they wanted to do.

“It definitely sounded like there was a need for just good, honest food, very much a farm-to-table philosophy,” said Cecconi. “By all indications, everyone is excited to have us here, just because we are delivering a great product.”

Everything is made from scratch, from the sprouts that he grows in a special unit under the front counter to the Ocean Wise albacore tuna he brings in and shreds and smokes in house for his tuna melt sandwiches.

“All the soups are made with local vegetables, seasonal as much as possible, that’s very important to me,” he said.

“I’ve always had a hard time wanting to pick up a quick lunch. Where do you go that you can come in and get an awesome bowl of chilli and chunk of corn bread?” he asked. “I don’t do fast food. I wanted an alternate.”

Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from Canadian Youth Business Foundation BC-Yukon”

Nominations should be sent to manager@penticton.org with the subject line ‘Top 40 Nomination.’  Please include nominee’s contact info and a brief reason for nomination.