FRANCESCO DI CAUDO
Pechanga Resort & Casino, the largest resort/casino in the western United States,
welcomes Francesco Di Caudo as its new head chef at Paisano’s Italian Restaurant.
With nearly 20 years of culinary experience, he most recently worked for three years
as the senior sous chef at a renowned Italian dining establishment inside one of
Las Vegas’ most well-known resorts. Di Caudo also spent more than six years at a
handful of other high end Nevada restaurants, as well as eight years working his
way up the gastronomic ladder at restaurants and resorts in Sicily, Venice and Milan,
Italy. Guests will find Di Caudo’s Italian fare to consist of extremely fresh ingredients
like those available in his home country.
Growing up in Sicily in a family of farmers, Francesco unwittingly started his culinary
career when he was five years old. “We followed the seasons as far as what we ate
at different times of the year. Because of that, my parents and my aunts and uncles
passed on their knowledge in a lot of different areas of cooking,” he says. He recounts
that in wintertime, the men in the family would round up several pigs and chickens
to slaughter and prepare for food. This introduced him to making prosciutto and
sausage. In the fall, his family and surrounding neighbors harvested grapes from
their vineyards, crushed and fermented them to make wine. Di Caudo was encouraged
to help. His uncle was an expert bread maker so the young chef-in-training learned
how to make Italian breads and Sicilian cookies. “My grandmother made fresh pastas
from scratch and I would watch her grind the wheat, roll the dough and meticulously
cut various shapes. Some of the pastas require more rolling after cutting to make
their final shapes. She did it all.” At 13, Di Caudo elected to go to hotelier school
to learn about the professional restaurant business and never looked back.
He says authentic Italian food consists of simple, fresh ingredients where each
flavor stands on its own. The Temecula area was quite appealing to Di Caudo because
it reminds him of Sicily where fresh citrus, tomatoes, wine and other native ingredients
are readily available.