Across my Table

Across My Table - Chef Fabio Colace

Friday, July 12, 2013Me! In words

Chef Fabio Colace was recently in Bangalore at the Sheraton Bangalore from Rome for an Italian festival. The food he served was light, fresh and innovative - not your average pizza-pasta-lasagne with red and white sauces that we tend to stop at. I took this chance to initiate a small email interview with him during this time, considering how busy he was during the festival. Though late, here is the interview, with some really interesting points to note on Italian cuisine. (For the pictures I have sourced online - each of the images is linked to the original pages and all credit goes to the original owners of those photos). 

Chef Fabio Colace - pic courtesy Nitin Kandhari 

In your travels as chef, do you find people are more appreciative of Italian food that is authentic or which comes with a contemporary twist?
In my travels, I have always received good reviews about the food I prepare. I always stick to authentic and original recipes. Tourists who visit Italy also want to taste true and traditional Italian food, this has also been the same to all the countries I have been to.

It happens to most cuisines, where only a small part becomes popular, in the case of Italian, its pastas and pizzas – what is the one part about Italian cuisine that you would want people to know more about.
Italy produces some very high quality and fresh ingredients. Italy roots to a very traditional style of cooking, with each region producing its own style of recipes and ingredients. Italy produces a lot of original DOP products. Each region has its own bread, recipes and so on.

Parmigiano Reggiano - one of the many DOP products from Italy

Where in Italy are you from. What are the popular dishes, ingredients, styles of cooking, from your home town?
I am from Rome, but, my family originates from Calabria. Ingredients most popular from Rome are Pecorino cheese, guanciale, extra virgin olive oil, ricotta cheese, lamb, fresh artichoke. The dishes which are popular from Rome are carbonara, porchetta, amatriciana, saltimbocca, braised beef tail, Carciofi alla Romana. I like all types of cooking, but prefer slow cooking, fried and grilled the most.

Veal Saltimbocca

If you were to help me lay out an Italian meal for my family, what dishes would you suggest we have?
Time spent in kitchen with my mother was the best time as I grew up. Gnocchi is one dish that I would like to make, it brings back memory of me preparing it with my mother as a child on Sundays. Gnocchi is very versatile it can be cooked in many styles with beef like in Piedmont or with seafood like in Napoli or with just tomatoes. Also, a good barbeque with wide variety of meats like veal, lamb or chicken would be on the menu along with bruschetta and some good wine. Grilled kid (Young goat) or roasted kid with garlic and herbs also would be on the menu.

Potato Gnocchi

Do you have a signature dishe(s) and what it is that inspired you to create it?
I cannot keep one particular signature dish in my mind. What inspires me most is the traditional Italian kitchen in Italy. When I see any fresh ingredient, I like to prepare something new. But, I keep the authenticity. The ingredients in Italy are very simple, they just go into the dish to make it taste good. I give attention to how the dish will be presented and always keep the balance in flavours right. In my creations one part is mostly acidic, the other part sweet and one strong flavour of an ingredient.

La Lasagne Bene - created by Chef Fabio for the recent Italian festival. layered lasagne sheets stuffed with onions, roasted cherry tomatoes buffalo milk mozzarella, basil, eggplant and Parmigiano cheese cream. What you see on top, is slivers of roasted eggplant, a completely new way of savoring the ingredient and very different from how we perceive eggplant to be cooked.

Details of your most memorable meal – not necessarily Italian
I have not one but many, the Arepa from Venezuela, which is a dish made of corn flour and stuffed with slow cooked beef and tomatoes is one of my favourites. The beef steaks from USA and this apple pie which I had from a farm in USA is something I can never forget. This one time in Spain I had the best mussels and from southern France the fresh oysters and crab. And recently the Persian kebabs from the Persian terrace restaurant in Sheraton Bangalore.

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