Your cooking is defined byCanadian Ingredients & Spanish-Northern Italian cooking & traditions. What or who inspires your style the most?
Inspiration comes from a lot of different sources but mostly from raw ingredients, my Venetian roots and music.
What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
When I was three or four I started to ‘help’ in my family’s trattoria in Veneto, Italy and became addicted to aromas – lemon zest, flour, yeast, roasted pork.
Would you say your childhood spent in Veneto, Italy has impacted on the chef that you are today?
I learned a lot about the power of simplicity and the importance of fresh herbs.
What would you say your defining ‘food philosophy’ is?
Enhance and gently coax flavour from amazing ingredients, that are in their prime – don’t over manipulate or mask. An artichoke, in season, at its peak, for example, just needs a little olive oil and lemon and its pure genius.
What has been the proudest moment of your career and why?
My family came in for dinner not long ago and my Mom told me that her father, my grandfather ‘Nonno Angelo’
would have been so proud that someone in the family is continuing the legacy of great cooking. My Mother is the best cook I have ever met aand her entire family is very well know and respected cooks in Veneto, so that meant a great deal to me.
What kind of experience do you aim to give people dining at your restaurant Marben in Toronto?
We want to see smiles and people having fun. We refer to Marben as a home where you find warm hospitality and delicious food. Marben has a casual and inviting feel yet is still very elegant so have the luxury of being able to offer the highest quality food and service in a relaxed and vibrant space.
What effect has your time spent in Spain, where you had theopportunity to work under thetutelage ofMichelin starred chef Marc Fosh, had on the style of your cuisine today?
Marc taught me so much it’s tough for me to pin point one singular thing, but I think the most important lesson I learned from him is of ‘attacking the taste buds’. That means always making sure every dish has a balance of acidity, sweetness, bitterness, saltiness and umami … eat bite should be exciting and make you crave another.
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, wherewouldit be and why?
Tokyo. I have never been but every cook I meet says it has changed them and inspired immensely.
Find out more about chef Rob Bragagnolo:marbenrestaurant.com