A chef championing local produce, the importance of technique and creativity in the kitchen, we caught up with him to find out more about his cooking style, as well as his recently launched new cookbook.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Cooking is a family tradition and passion. I took my inspiration from my dad who was a cook too, I live my life in the kitchen, I saw my mother and grandmother prepare fresh pasta in the traditional way and I brought all these experiences into my cuisine. The knowledge of your country traditional cuisine, the one I also prepare for my family, is the starting point to explore new fields and try contemporary combinations.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
I studied in a tourist institute, specialising in cuisine as most of my colleagues. Of course during the studying period I had some basic experiences in various restaurants as part of the education. Afterwards I thought it was important to have an international experience, discover new traditions, different ingredients and techniques, so I worked in different restaurants in London, France and Germany. A few years later I felt ready to come back to Italy and work my new skills.
I had some superb experiences as a sous chef in an important restaurant in Piedmont where we obtained the first Michelin star, a very thrilling sensation being part of it. I then worked for other important restaurants in hotels and resorts in Italy until I moved to Tuscany where I’ve been based since 2004.
What’s your favourite summer ingredient?
Fish is really a must in my menus, it is a very versatile and delicate ingredient. Although Castello del Nero and La Torre restaurant are based in the Chianti wine region, a countryside area of Tuscany, we are actually just a one hour drive from the Tuscan coast which offers a huge variety of fish, shellfish and other seafood I like to work with.
Do you have any role models?
First of all my father who was a cook, then all of the big chefs I have worked with.
What can guests expect from the menu at Castello del Nero?
A contemporary Italian cuisine with local produce.
Tell us more about your new book!
The book is mainly focused on the photography of my latest dishes for La Torre restaurant. We would like to highlight the ingredients and the way each dish is presented together with few tips about the inspiration or memories about each one. All recipes will then be available via a QRcode.
Name three of your favourite restaurants.
Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse; Restaurant Paul Bocuse; La Pergola Heinz Beck
Describe your cooking philosophy in three words.
Produce is the most important one, then the technique, creativity is the last part as you cannot work just on the creativity you need the base to express your skills.
Finally… what’s next on the cards?
The book has just been launched, but I’m already working on some new and exciting projects I’m not able to disclose for the moment.
Find out more via castellodelnero.com