Tag: chefs

No to modified carbonara: from London to Rome, the chefs’ comments – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

La Cucina Italiana


It happened again: yet another modified carbonara sparked a controversy, this time of international dimensions. She confirms how much (little) we are willing to accept variations of this much-loved dish, and says a lot about the way foreigners conceive Italian cuisine, even though it is voted the best in the world.

The question concerns “Delicious Shop”, restaurant in the elegant Shoreditch neighborhood of London, where Gianfillippo Mattioli, a true Roman, has made a radical decision. He chose to eliminate carbonara from the menu because, after having proposed it in its canonical version – eggs, pecorino, bacon and pepper – he found himself having to deal with so much negative feedback and so many requests for modified carbonara that he couldn’t take it anymore.

«Many customers didn’t like the original recipe, and many asked additions such as chicken, mushrooms, or removing the bacon. We preferred not to serve it”, Mattioli told Tg1. Yes, even the main Italian news program covered it, followed by almost all the British newspapers, and some Italians, attracted by a post from the restaurant on Instagram. A post entitled “Carbonara Gate” in which Mattioli essentially told the story, ruling: «Let’s be clear that we respect our customers’ preferences, but we don’t want to compromise our quality and authenticity.

Why does carbonara inflame us?

Not an isolated case, in fact. The carbonara-gates pop periodically. Sometimes they are fun, others less so, and they always unleash a never-dormant gastronomic fundamentalism. But why do cases like this happen with carbonara and not with other dishes? «In my opinion because carbonara is one of the popular dishes par excellence. Everyone does it and everyone thinks they know how to do it better than others, so they feel entitled to have their say“, He says Luciano Monosilio, among the youngest chefs to obtain the Michelin star, who is truly among the most entitled to talk about carbonara, given that in Rome he is considered the “king” of it. For his carbonara he earned praise New York Times and his recipe is one of the reasons to book a table in his restaurants: Luciano Cucina Italiana e Follie, in the historic Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá, which he has been managing for two years.

As Monosilio thinks another pillar of Roman cuisine, that is Simone Panellawho with his brother Francesco runs the kitchens ofAncient weighbridge of Romeamong the restaurants that have made the history of Capitoline cuisine (they also celebrated the centenary), and – for 12 years – of Antica Pesa in New York: «Carbonara will never stop being discussed because it is a very well-known dish in Worldwide. They do it almost everywhere, and for this very reason everyone has applied their own idea. I add: unfortunately. Because the recipe remains only one”.

How much carbonara can be changed according to Luciano Monosilio and Simone Panella

«The carbonara is the done one with eggs, bacon, pepper and pecorino. It is tenaciously Roman even in its ingredients. There is not a single codified recipe precisely because it is a dish of the people: the preparations can vary but not the raw materials, because it certainly doesn’t include chicken, mushrooms or cream, continues Monosilio. For this reason, and not only that, in his restaurants he does not give in to variations on the theme: «It has almost never happened that I have been asked for variations on the carbonara. However, I won’t compromise: I wouldn’t even change the pasta shape, imagine if I would add ingredients to the customers’ liking. If you go to a boutique to buy a pair of shoes, do you ask to change them at will?”.

«I’m quite a fundamentalist too, especially when it comes to first courses, continues Simone Panella. «I often receive unusual requests, and when possible I look for a middle ground without ever distorting the recipe. Maybe I’ll change the format for the pasta, but looking for a suitable one and explaining to the customer that it is not the best for that seasoning, but I do not add ingredients that are not foreseen. I rather recommend changing the order: if they ask for a carbonara with chicken, I suggest choosing a completely different dish. Or, if they really can’t do without it, to have a carbonara and a roast chicken to eat as they please, even at the same time, because a carbonara that isn’t a real carbonara will never come out of my kitchen.” «Not even from mine, adds Monosilio. «And for sure I wouldn’t remove carbonara from the menu if some customers didn’t like it as it is: it is an expression of my cuisine, of the cuisine of the restaurant that offers it. The customer is always free to choose.”

Carbonara and Italian cuisine abroad

It may make you smile at times to think about it, but having to respond to the request for a carbonara with chicken or mushrooms (or any other completely distorted Italian dish) for a catering professional it is much less simple than you think, especially if you interface with foreign customersthe. «In Rome it happens less often, perhaps because foreign customers come to us with awareness. But in New York it is common to receive requests for changes. Foreigners abroad are the most difficult customers, especially for dishes with strong flavours, such as a carbonara with pepper and pecorino. They are normally used to variations created to pursue their taste, in Italian-American or Italian-German restaurants depending on their origin, so they struggle to appreciate the originals”, says Panella.

«The fact, however, is that carbonara is just the tip of the iceberg, Panella points out. In fact, the issue for restaurateurs is broader: it’s a matter of whether or not they are willing to come to terms, deciding whether to make the same (mistake) that Italian restaurants abroad have made for many years. In short, there are two ways: indulge palates that are not well trained in our cuisine, or go straight on your own path aware of the fact that you are also ambassadors of a culinary culture, ours. «Customers’ needs must be satisfied, but there is a limit: if I know that calling fresh pasta filled with fish “lasagna” is misleading for them, I will call it “fresh pasta” and I will continue to call “lasagna” only that with ragù and bechamel. But no further,” says Panella. «And then – concludes Monosilio – let’s not forget one thing: maybe everyone has their own version of carbonara, but let’s leave the chefs the chance to be chefs. Otherwise – we add – what fun would there be in going to a restaurant?



Chef’s Christmas cake – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

Chef's Christmas cake


First prepare the cream: mix the egg yolks with the sugar, stir in the cornflour and vanilla, then also the warmed milk, then bring to the heat and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until you obtain a smooth, dense cream.
Transfer to a large plate and leave to cool covered with cling film.

Also prepare the syrup by combining 1 glass of water with 1 tablespoon of sugar in a saucepan and bringing to the boil, then turn off the heat and add the rum (alternatively add the peel of 1 orange while cooking the syrup and avoid the rum).

Whip the cold cream from the fridge and add it to the now cold cream, stirring delicately so as not to cause the cream to deflate.

Let’s get to the most unpleasant part: arrange the 3 sponge cake discs on the work surface and proceed to cut them out: you will have to obtain 6 different discs in total.
You must cut out 1 circle of 17 cm in diameter and 1 of 5 cm plus a star from the first disk; from the second disk 1 circle of 20 cm in diameter; from the third disk 1 circle of 13 cm, 1 of 9 cm and 1 other of 5 cm.

Place the 20 cm disc on the serving plate and lightly moisten it with the syrup, then fill it with the cream and cover it with the second disc, the 17 cm one.

Wet and stuff the second disc as well and cover it with the third disc, the 13 cm one.
Wet it, stuff it and cover it with the fourth 9 cm disc, proceeding to wet and stuff this too.

Create the top tier of the cake with the 2 5cm discs, wetting and filling the first and leaving the second, the one on top of everything, without filling.
Now proceed to create a sort of Pavesini palisade on each level, leaving the cream itself to act as glue.

You will have to make 5 different Pavesini palisades, one for each level of the cake

Chop the chocolate and melt it in the microwave (or in a bain-marie).

Using a spoon, let the melted chocolate drip slowly onto the top of the Pavesini, so that it creates a decoration but also acts as a glue between them, once solidified.
Let the chocolate dry, then decorate with a little icing sugar.

The chef’s Christmas cake is ready, all you have to do is add the star and serve it.


Ever tried panettone meatballs? The pastry chefs’ recipe – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay


Never tried them Panettone meatballs? Two young and talented pastry chefs thought of it, Marta Boccanera and Felice Venanzi, APEI pastry chefs followed by the legendary Iginio Massari as a mentor. You can find them in the laboratory Grué pastry shop in Rome, where in addition to producing a range of fantastic creations, they also have a light catering section. Here it occurred to them to think of panettone meatballs, an intelligent and tasty recipe for recycling leftover panettone, which you can easily replicate at home.

Pastry chefs by personal choice and not family tradition, Marta Boccanera and Felice Venanzi have fueled the love for sweet art since 2008. Dissatisfied with the course of study undertaken – Political Science and International Relations for Felice, Mechanical Engineering for Marta – they decide, one step away from graduation, to revolutionize their lives by taking a high quality pastry shop among the most popular in Italy. After having worked with some of the most renowned pastry chefs in the Bel Paese and having continued to train with specialist courses, they set their sights on Rome. In 2014 they opened Grué where, from the beginning, they prepared their desserts without using semi-finished products and with high quality ingredients starting from butter, in a cutting-edge laboratory. In November 2022, Gambero Rosso’s “Pasticceri & Pastry Shop Guide 2023” awarded him the Three Cakes, which they confirm again this year and add the Best Digital Communication award. Another important recognition for 2023 is the inclusion in the list of “Best Pastry Chefs in the World – Luxury Pastry in the World by Iginio Massari”. The great Master Pastry Chef from Brescia is their mentor, also present in the romantic moment when Felice asked Marta for her hand last May during the Dolce Amore event in Naples.

RICCARDO ROBERTI

Iginio Massari he could be the grandfather of these two courageous pastry chefs who decided to give up everything to dedicate themselves to their passion, pastry making. Following the path indicated by a legend like the Maestro from Brescia is the best choice they could make for their professional career, they have no doubts. They had already met the Maestro before at a pastry making course – Marta remembers very well the first day in which Massari entered the classroom, wrote a greeting phrase with chocolate and stated succinctly «if you don’t know how to write something like that, don’t can you ever be a good pastry chef, because this is the pastry chef’s pen” – then they called him as a consultant in 2015. They were 5 really intense days, they both remember, in which everyone was called into question, weighed and weighed, everything ‘operated thus taking the path of success we know today. The first recognition comes with their chocolate panettone Gianduiosowhich wins the prize Best artisanal chocolate panettone in Italy in 2018. From then on, the path takes the right turn thanks to experience, study and continuous testing.

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