Executive Chef Ignazio Podda was born and raised in Aosta, Italy, in the heart of the Alps, where tourism has been a way of life for the past hundred years or more, with ski resorts abounding on the slopes of Europe’s tallest mountains.
Chef Podda’s love for the culinary industry is not difficult to trace, as meals in Italy are always important and a family affair, and he was told at a young age that a Chef gets to see the world, thus when presented with the choice of High School in his teens, he did not hesitate, and chose the Culinary Vocational High School.
He attended the Ecole Hoteliere in Chatillon, Italy, in his native Aosta Valley, a boarding school where he was instilled with a strong discipline that helped him tremendously later on in life, even making his year as a draftee in the Alpini, Italy’s mountain army corps, look like a walk in the park.
Chef Podda left Italy for the United States, where he spent two years as Sous Chef, learning the business side of F & B operations. He then left in 2002 for beautiful Jamaica, and the opening of what is now Beaches Ocho Rios, in the capacity of Executive Sous Chef. He was later promoted to Executive Chef at Beaches Sandy Bay in Negril, and then again as Executive Chef for the re-opening of Sandals Dunn’s River, in St. Ann. After that, he was for six years the Executive Chef for the Private Villas of Sandals and Beaches before starting a new adventure at renowned Grand Lido Negril Resort & Spa.
During his 11 years in Jamaica, he has had a chance to work for short terms all over the Caribbean numerous times, including Bahamas, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and thus gained knowledge of the subtle but ever-present differences in the Caribbean regional cuisines and cultures.
Ignazio never intended to stay in Jamaica for more than two years, dreaming of seeing even more exotic countries, but he right away fell in love with both Jamaica and with his wife, Melonie, and more than eleven years later, he is still here.
Chef Podda has achieved over twenty-two years of experience as Restaurant Chef, Hotel Chef, and Private Chef. He is Vice President of the Culinary Federation of Jamaica, a member of the GVCI (Italian Chef Diaspora) and the FIC (Italian Culinary Federation).
Over the years he has prepared meals for stars and celebrities, and if asked what he remembers the most, he would surely answer about the time when he got to cook for his own favorite football team, world-famous
- In 2004 he won first place in the Negril Coconut festival and food competition.
- In 2005 he won first place in the Negril Ice Cream festival and Chocolate competition.
- In 2011 he was awarded with the ICMC (Certified Italian Cuisine Master Chef) by the Academia Barilla, in Parma, Italy.