Baked apples
The Thress Pleasures principle utilizes fruit, nuts and dark chocolate.

Less is more

As executive chef at 90-seat Il Molo in Boston’s North End, East Boston native and chef Pino Maffeo is enthusiastic about today’s widespread emphasis on using local and seasonal produce. He aims “to do the least to ingredients, so there’s nothing to hide behind.” In an ongoing effort to “minimalize the use of sugar,” Mr. Maffeo consciously uses other ingredients differently.

“For example, I’ll use ginger juice versus dry ginger in our all- American apple pie. It’s a step forward in flavor while also being a plus in the health department,” he said.

While aiming to simplify the ingredient list, he knows he must not simplify the taste. Apple pie at Il Molo is an example of his “less is more” philosophy. He’ll bake the crust a little more than usual, allowing the toasted flavor to make up for using less spice and less butter.

“People always ask me, ‘What’s the most important ingredient [in any particular dish]?’ I say it’s the one I leave out. I really believe less is more.”