Meet writer Chad Di Lillo

Chad Di Lillo doesn’t believe in cutting corners when it comes to food.

He grew up in a family full of restaurateurs and shares his own cooking at @thetastyitalian on Instagram.

A published author, poet, trained sous chef and father, Chad creates poetry for people through his site

He’s an avid fisherman and says that, while he’s budget conscious with a family of five, he never sacrifices when buying meat or fish. His argument: If he’s going to spend the time cooking it, it’s going to be worth cooking. "Life is too short to eat sh*tty food," he says.

Tell us a little about your writing background.

I've been writing since I was in grade school and have a passion for elaborating on the imaginary mind. I often write about things that are close to me, or what I know to be true, and then embellish that by 1,000. My first novel, The Mind Within, was published in 2000 and my second novel, Dark Talent, has just completed its final professional edit. Today it's a hobby with the dream to make it a career.

Maine lobster with filet mignon (photo provided by Chad Di Lillo).

Do you travel for food or grow your own food?

When I pick a travel destination, I definitely take into consideration the culinary experience of that destination. When I travel, I take advantage of the places I don’t have the opportunity to visit very often. Truluck’s is one of my favorite restaurants when I'm in Southern California, Miami or Austin. As for growing my own food, I've tried, but the rabbits keep jumping my 10-inch fence.

Do you make it a point to shop for local food?

Most definitely! If there's a local farmers market, I will be there to support. When shopping for the week at the grocery store, if there's a sign for local produce or meat, I will support my local community.

Do you ever catch your own food?

I'm an avid fisherman and catch and eat my fish. Mostly, we fish for trout (rainbow, brown, cutthroat and steelhead), but we do go in search of bass in freshwater lakes. If we're in salt water, I love sea bass or mahi-mahi. 

When we have trout, I prepare it one of three ways:

  1. Filet them and make fish tacos

  2. Filet them and put a light breading of Italian bread crumbs and fry them in oil

  3. Gut, but not filet, and fill them with butter, lemon, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper, and wrap them in foil on the grill

If we have sea bass, I usually bake those, since it's a delicate fish. Mahi-Mahi I can do the same as the trout, but I like to marinate them in a ginger, honey, balsamic, brown sugar and soy sauce mix. I let them marinate for at least three hours and them bake them or grill them on a flat top outside.

Where do you find recipes?

I don't follow recipes; I use them as guidelines to create what I want. I often use Bon Appetit and for suggestions.

Grilled ribeye (photo provided by Chad Di Lillo).

Where do you turn for great food or food inspiration?

My family has been in the restaurant business for over 40 years. My three uncles have paved the way for my food addiction and I often call one of them for ideas or inspiration.

What do you snack on when you're on deadline?

I love fresh stone fruit. At night, after I have prepared the family masterpiece, I always indulge myself with a hot fudge sundae!

Anything you’d like to add about being a writer who loves food?

Don't look for deals when buying something to cook. Spend a little extra money and buy the best. When going out to eat, two things to keep in mind: First, do not pick a restaurant based on a budget, if you are going to go out to eat, make it worth it. Second, never look at the prices. Order what you want to eat and enjoy every flavor that touches your tongue.

Did you enjoy reading about Chad and how he eats like a writer? We profile three writers per week, so visit often. If you're a writer who loves food, email!

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