“Indian culinary culture is truly an endless discovery”: Chef Marco Stabile

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One of Tuscany’s best-known chefs, Marco Stabile is a name to be reckoned with. With a Michelin-starred restaurant to his credit, the culinary expert shares that he enjoys “researching old recipes and turning them into something that could be enjoyed these days”.

In an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, the master chef talks about his background, the challenges of being a Michelin-starred chef, Indian cuisine and the one food he really wants to try and why. Extracts:

When and how did your love for food start?

My love for food dates back to when I was a kid and I loved looking at my grandma’s kitchen table while she was cooking instead of going to play soccer with my friends. I would say it’s a passion that I have always had in my head and in my heart. And I followed him!

How would you describe your journey over the years?

If I had to use just one word, I would say – Beautiful. It was a very difficult, demanding, tortuous journey but at the same time beautiful and rewarding. A lot has happened, and I don’t regret any. They made me grow up to be the boss (and the person) that I am now.

You are a Michelin starred chef; what’s the hardest part about being one?

Live and face expectations. I always expect the best from me and my team. My goal every day is to please my customers and give them a special experience at the Ora d’Aria tables. I love to do this because I love to share my love for food with them. It’s like sharing a passion and it’s incredibly wonderful to do that through my dishes and my food ideas.

As a master of Tuscan cuisine, can you tell us more about it?

Tuscany is my region. I was born in Pontedera and my professional life has mainly been spent in Florence. I have always loved going back to my roots and memories, looking for old recipes and turning them into something that could be enjoyed these days. The past is a wealth, mainly food. And the regional cuisines of Italy (like that of Tuscany) are a treasure to be loved, observed and showcased.

You have visited India many times – what have you tried here and what did you like the most?

When I was in India, food was a magic to me and it really caught my curiosity. I have tried several dishes and think Indian food culture is truly an endless discovery. In particular, I like samosa, butter chicken, garlic naan, sa ff ron gulab jamun, tandoori cuisine in general, and curry in any way I can (not too spicy, eh).

An Indian ingredient that fascinates you, and why?

I absolutely love tandoori masala. It’s magic to see how tandoori gives foods an unexpected depth of flavor and endless ‘umami’.

Indian cuisine occupies a prominent place on the global culinary map. Do you think that the full potential of cooking has been recognized around the world?

I think Indian cuisine should be better known than it is today. Most of Indian cuisine is yet to be discovered by the world.

The pandemic has significantly affected the food industry. What do you think was his greatest learning?

The pandemic has been a very difficult phase for all of us around the world. Much has already been said on this subject, I do not want to add anything new but would like to say that our life, professional and personal, has changed in the past year and a half. As a restaurateur and chef, I too had to face a lot of problems. But now I want to think positively and put all my energies into my plans for the future. As they say in Italy, “I was deformed but not broken”.

Which dish do you really want to try and why?

I would like to try a version of meet paan, because I like fermented foods very much and I like to eat foods that are ‘folded’ in leaves.

Have you ever experienced Indian cuisine? If not, would you like?

Yes i tried to make my version of Gulab Jamun and my girlfriend does sometimes Samosas at home.

If you had to name one ingredient that you think is the most versatile, which one would you choose and why?

Masala in general. Once you find the homemade / real version of it, it becomes impossible not to use it in all dishes!

Tell us about your experience being part of Fabelle’s Heart of Gold collection.

It was a pleasure to collaborate on such a nice and interesting project and to co-organize a masterpiece using edible gold as an element which arouses a very strong feeling for Indian consumers. Although it was not easy to cooperate at such a distance, I think together we did a great job. The result is fabulous quality chocolate that melts in your mouth!

The Heart of Gold Collection was designed to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary feats accomplished by illustrious citizens and organizations whose significant contributions have contributed to the building of the nation and to society as a whole. The pralines highlight their characteristic virtues such as courage, knowledge, compassion, purity and perseverance. It is the amalgamation of all these qualities that have been redesigned in the form of 24-carat edible gold pralines. I pride myself on being a storyteller and using edible gold in a dish to bring elements of the full story to life, introducing consumers to a superior multisensory culinary realm.

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