How has the way that you cook changed as your career has progressed?
I stepped into a professional kitchen the first time at the age of 13, and have experienced all kinds of environments since, through journey around the world. For the most part of my career, I have been cooking Italian food (Italian food is often seen as as ‘casual’ and ‘approachable’), but for the last six years, I have been moving my interests more to fine-dining, and my flavours started changing with some light Asian influence. I believe that my style will keep evolving and changing wildly in the years to come.
Where and how do you find inspiration for your work?
Anywhere, really. It could be from a flavour that triggered a forgotten memory, from a scenery during a vacation, etc. It is a very demanding and time consuming lifestyle, and it takes a lot from you, but …. If you do it with passion … will get a lot in return.
Did you grow up eating mushrooms? What is your earliest memory of eating a mushroom or a mushroom dish?
I was blessed to grow up in a land with a great variety of products, including mushrooms. I fondly remember going mushroom hunting with a neighbour when I was younger (10 years old at most!), and get back home with bag full of galletti (chanterelles) ready to jump into the pan.
Do you see mushrooms as a luxurious ingredient or a humble ingredient?
It can be both luxurious and/or humble, and it very much depend on the variety and type. From where I come from, we always look at mushrooms as a precious (more than just luxurious) ingredient, it is easily accessible, but very much celebrated.
For the rest of your life you can cook with, and eat, only one variety of mushroom – which variety do you choose and why?
Well that’s easy! Fresh Porcini mushrooms (Ceps) for sure – it taste like home, to me.
What’s the secret to getting the most flavor out of fungi?
It depends a lot what are you using it for. Generally speaking, pan-searing mushrooms is the most ideal to get the best caramelised taste of the fungi. However, if we are looking at the flavor of mushrooms in its purest form, I like to apply the method called cryo-filter –to retrieve a clear consommé, or to dehydrate mushrooms into chips – to enjoy mushrooms crispy, yet retaining its very original raw flavour.
If you’re cooking mushrooms at home for yourself or your friends how do you like to prepare them?
Sautéed in olive oil with some salted anchovies, capers, green olives (with pit), parsley, and a splash of Pinot grigio wine. Also perfect with dried stockfish, like what Grandma used to make!
Can you describe a memorable experience involving a glass or bottle of Krug?
Wedding anniversary with Krug pairing menu signed by Julian Roye.
What is the dish you have paired with Krug Grande Cuvée?
Title: Memorie di Sottobosco, Life on a Bark
- Porcini Mount blanc
- Blue foot mushrooms
- Glutinous rice bark
- King oyster mushrooms
Please explain the inspiration behind the dish?
Here is the translation of Memorie di Sottobosco / memories of undergrowth – sottobosco in Italian means everything that’s grows in the forest between ground level and the height of short, stubby bushes.
I often enjoy recreating small scenery in my dishes. In this case, my approach of the ‘Life on a Bark’ puts the focal point on the mushrooms. Being born and raised in Italy – if you say “Mushrooms” I reply “Porcini”, simply because it is the main type I grew up with, one of my precious childhood memories.
In this case, we use it to create rice porcini bark together with some chanterelles for the paste of the Porcini Mount Blanc (inspired by the plating of the classic French dessert). It is from my experience in France that brings about the addition of the Blue foot mushrooms – the first time I’ve tasted it was during my training in Paris where one night, in a nameless bistro, I had the best Blue foot mushroom casserole in my life.
Last but not least, I’d add a touch our beloved Singapore fungi with a locally grown King oyster mushrooms chip. A translation of east meets west, I’d say.
Why does it pair so well with Krug Grande Cuvée?
The flavourful umami of the Porcini, paired together with the nice crunch of the rice bark, is the perfect match for the strong but elegant complexity of the Krug Grande Cuvee.