Executive Chef of Bellezza Restaurant-Club talks to Annet Kulyagina
"An empty plate is the chef’s best reward"
Photos by Denis Manko
How long have you been a chef?
I think twelve years. I came from Italy where I worked for many restaurants. Four years ago, when I came to Moscow, I became a chef.
You are the youngest chef I have talked to and I think this question will be most appropriate: Why did you choose to work in the kitchen?
I was born into a family, which was not wealthy, in the small town of Ancona Marche. Like every young person, I had my pride and didn’t want to ask my parents for money.
The money I earned I could spend and buy whatever I needed, without asking anybody. And I worked in the kitchen. And after a while started cooking myself.
You know it is quite an advantage to grow up near the sea. I could combine school in winter, with working in summer.
According to the restaurant’s internet site, 34% of the dishes are your creations. Is that right?
Not exactly! Here we do the recipes of my native town. You know in Italy, in every region and in every town, there are different traditions of preparing food. I was given the chance to demonstrate some of the dishes from my town.
There are not so many chefs from my region in Moscow. I also act as a consultant for chefs from Bryansk, Saint-Petersburg and Yuzhno- sakhalinsk.
I collected many recipes, and worked on them to adjust them to international standards. I found my own style, and now prepare them here.
Do your guests like what you do?
I don’t know about all the guests, but I hope so, yes. You see, the best reward for a chef is an empty plate. If the dish stays untouched, it says a lot more than words. I like critics and I try to change recipes for the people. I like when there are a lot of guests.
Is there any other prize you would like to get as a chef?
I have never thought about that. I don’t know if I would like to get anything except happy guests. I don’t even know the type of a chef I am. There is a theory that there are two types of chefs. I was told that when I first came to the culinary school. My professor used to tell us that
Sometimes I feel like making everything as in the book, but most of the time I am just fanatically enthusiastic to invent and try out.
chefs are divided into two categories: the first one is the very thin, very professional and knows and does everything according to the book; the other one is fattish, enthusiastic and homey.
Where do you get inspiration for your experiments?
Well it all comes from the style. I like different styles. For example I like sushi. Not cooking it, but the idea of rolling food up and serving it the way they do. I make notes and use the tricks sometimes. I like making fresh tuna, for example. I have one recipe from my grandmother. It was only in our family; I took it and brought it to my kitchen.
Did you find any tricks in Russian cuisine?
Ah, no, not yet. I haven’t had much time to try something Russian. I haven’t even seen Red Square yet. When my mother calls me and asks about Moscow,
I work here and know every corner. I just want to make the work perfect for the restaurant, to excite the guests up to the same level as myself. Maybe in time, I will have a chance to see Moscow.
I usually answer that I have my own Moscow and it is called Bellezza.
by Lorenzo’s Grandma Anita
Black cod fillet – 250 g
Cherry tomatoes – 50 g
Raisin – 15 g
Garlic – 10 g
White wine vinegar – 5 g
Tomato base or tomatoes in own juice – 50g
Fish bouillon – 50 g
Salt, pepper, olive oil – 1/1/50 g
Fresh spinach – 70 g
Oregano – 70 g
Almond petals – 1 g
Banana leaf for decoration – 1
Season the black cod fillet with salt and pepper. Sauté it on the heated pan with the olive oil, and then cook it in the oven at 180- 200C for 5-7 minutes.
For the sauce: sauté the cherry tomatoes in a pan with chopped garlic, then add fish bouillon, tomato base, vinegar, raisins, salt and pepper. Steam the mixture for 3-5 minutes and add oregano when the pan is taken off the heat.
For the garnish: é the spinach with olive oil and salt and pepper.
put the prepared spinach in the center and cover it with the cod. Pour the sauce around the cod. Make a triangle shape banana leaf and put it round the cod fillet, covering it. Decorate everything with the almond petals.