If you are a friend of Da Paolo Group’s executive chef Andrea Scarpa and you got married recently, he probably turned up for your wedding in a pink shirt and dark trousers. The younger child of Da Paolo founders Paolo and Judie Scarpa says with a laugh, “It’s the only formal shirt I have. I’ve worn it to everyone’s weddings.”
His lack of tailored shirts notwithstanding, the 32-year-old stresses that he is not opposed to dressing up when the occasion calls for it. Otherwise, Scarpa’s philosophy towards fashion can be summed up in one word: functionality. It’s a quality his 14-hour workdays call for.
In 2015, he became the group executive chef of the Da Paolo Group. In this position, he oversees the kitchens of its two restaurants, as well as the central kitchens that supply the Singapore F&B company’s six Da Paolo Gastronomia outlets and its business-to-business arm. More recently, the group has also opened four cloud kitchens, with a fifth on the way, to increase its delivery capacity.
And during a chat with The Peak in mid-March, Scarpa shared that he had been busy with Priority Club, a pizza and pasta delivery concept with crowd-pleasing elements such as mentaiko, Japanese curry and Swedish meatballs targeted at a younger crowd.
With this much to pack into days that start at 8am and end around 10pm – six days a week – one would think that he had more than enough on his plate. Not quite. Seven days a week, he also does or teaches CrossFit, heading to the gym between split shifts at Da Paolo. He got into fitness around the time he became group executive chef. “When you’re eating all the time, you have to work it off, or you’re going to have a problem eventually. Also, if I don’t get some physical exercise each day, I’d go mental.”
To help him to quickly get from work to the gym and back again, he relies on a daily uniform of a black T-shirt and black trousers. He owns 25 of the same Calvin Klein black T-shirt and seven pairs of Lululemon pants. For gym regulars who have trouble finding trousers to fit their well-worked quads, Scarpa – a Lululemon ambassador from 2018 to 2019 – recommends the activewear brand’s dressier trousers. “They are slick, stretchy and comfortable,” he says.
Even though one might think that the Italian blood from his dad’s side of the family would translate into a certain sartorial flamboyance, the Singaporean-Italian chef says, “I inherited my style from my dad, who also keeps it very simple. After National Service, I went to the Alma culinary school in Parma, Italy. Everybody thinks of Italy as a fashion state, but it wasn’t like that for me. I went to school and after school, I was posted to Michelin restaurants. This took about two years. Work could start at 6am and finish at 2am. There wasn’t time for much else. All this has influenced how I dress now. What I wear has to help with my daily activities. If it doesn’t, it’s unsustainable for me.”
“I either go very dark or very light,” says Scarpa, when asked about his clothing preferences. Falling into the latter category, the Ermenegildo Zegna ensemble he went with for this shoot would be great for a night out while complementing his casual style. He reveals, however, that there is one person who has introduced more colour into his life – his fiancee. He might have spoken literally, but his smile suggests he means it figuratively as well.