EVOO a Guest of Honor at Gracie Mansion

Paola Aranci is the executive chef of Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. In this exclusive interview, she shared her love of cooking and her special connection to extra virgin olive oil.

Gracie Mansion
Aug 1, 2017 11:20 AM EDT
By Ylenia Granitto
Gracie Mansion

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I grew up in Rome and spent the sum­mers of my child­hood in a beau­ti­ful town in Umbria, where my mother Maria used to take me to enjoy the fresh coun­try air,” said Paola Aranci, the exec­u­tive chef of Gracie Mansion — the offi­cial res­i­dence of the Mayor of New York City. In a house sur­rounded by olive groves and vines, my grand­mother showed me how to cook.”

It is not just a mat­ter of eat­ing. It is also about feel­ing good, and extra vir­gin olive oil embod­ies the essence of my idea of food.- Paola Aranci, exec­u­tive chef of Gracie Mansion

We climbed those rough lad­ders, picked the olives with rakes,” she recalled of the olive har­vest with the fam­ily. Olive oil was among the first ingre­di­ents I came in con­tact with, and it was nat­ural for me to appre­ci­ate this valu­able ele­ment at the base of the Mediterranean diet, which I mainly use raw,” she told us. It is essen­tial in my cui­sine and there­fore it has become a very wel­come guest at Gracie Mansion, also for its many ben­e­fits – in addi­tion to enhanc­ing fla­vors of food, it has the extra­or­di­nary prop­erty of being tasty, suit­able for a healthy and bal­anced diet.”

Executive Chef Paola Aranci during an event at Gracie Mansion

Before New York, com­pe­tence and pas­sion took the forty-year-old qual­i­fied chef around the world. Following a train­ing path which included the culi­nary school of Fiuggi and classes at the University of Madrid, she flanked great cooks and pas­try chefs. She worked hard every sum­mer, cook­ing at restau­rants and hotels, and she was the exec­u­tive chef of an Italian major league soc­cer team, cater­ing events and man­ag­ing the play­ers’ diets. Then she moved to the United States where she worked as a pri­vate chef and con­sul­tant in California.

Thanks to her exper­tise in the field, Aranci was cho­sen to serve in a kitchen of great insti­tu­tional and his­tor­i­cal value at Gracie Mansion. And we had the intu­ition that she was selected not only for her famil­iar­ity with Italian cui­sine but also for her style of cook­ing. Her best dishes are often referred to as sim­ply sophis­ti­cated,’ and liq­uid gold is a key ele­ment.

It is not just a mat­ter of eat­ing. It is also about feel­ing good, and extra vir­gin olive oil embod­ies the essence of my idea of food, intended as nutri­tion and plea­sure,” Aranci remarked. This is also what makes you appre­ci­ate her way of com­bin­ing foods, which is nat­ural and ele­gant.


I love when my guests feel the authen­tic taste of the var­i­ous ingre­di­ents, and extra vir­gin olive oil has the abil­ity to enhance the indi­vid­ual fla­vors,” she con­sid­ered. Thanks to its capac­ity to make dough light and soft, she often uses it with whole wheat flour to pre­pare healthy and tasty focac­cia bread.

Whole wheat focaccia with extra virgin olive oil

Italian and Mexican cuisines are my spe­cial­ties, but I like to exper­i­ment the styles and ingre­di­ents of Mediterranean coasts that I dis­cov­ered dur­ing a beau­ti­ful work­ing expe­ri­ence in Greece,” the chef pointed out.

Liquid gold is also the undis­puted pro­tag­o­nist in the dishes she pre­pares for her six-year-old son, Sergio.

He loves spaghetti or orec­chi­ette pre­pared with Parmesan cheese and the extra vir­gin olive oil which my uncle Fernando Neri and my aunt Gabriella Marinari pro­duce in the fam­ily olive grove of Parrano, in Umbria, under organic man­age­ment,” she revealed. I am so glad to impart to my son this taste and qual­ity aware­ness.”


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