Designer cuisine from the executive chef at the Armani Caffe
Time Out Bahrain staff
What’s your background? How long have you been in Bahrain? I used to train the kitchen staff of the Armani Caffe outlets all over the world. It’s one year since I arrived in Bahrain, and actually here everything is so far from what I was used to. Time is different, research for quality products is harder, staff recruitment and training is very difficult. But at the end of the day, I’m sure we are doing a great job and the standards I was looking for are reached. How does the Armani brand translate into food? Everything must be easy, natural. As an executive chef in the Armani company, every idea I had, had to be minimalistic. I had to shape dishes and tastes to get the simplicity and clean look. It’s not a translation into the food, it’s a philosophy that creates the dish.
There are Armani restaurants around the world – do you all have to follow the same menu, or how creative can you be? Emporio Armani Caffes around the world all have the same menu. Actually we are not Emporio, that’s why our entire menu depends on my own creativity and taste. Of course to have a good response from customers you have to find the path that meets their requirements, but my efforts are aimed to keep the authentic Italian taste in every bite you can get in my restaurant
Which dishes do you like to eat best? Which are the most popular? I’m Italian, so of course I enjoy pasta and risotto. In Italy we have a particular view of first courses. Outside of Italy, most Italian restaurants are giving another interpretation of what our food is. In my country you will never find anybody who asks for a pasta with cream and chicken or a seafood risotto with cheese.
How is your kitchen equipped? Is there a big team? Yes, we are quite a big team and I’m very happy with all of them. At the beginning I was really worried about what my staff could actually do for me to get the level I was supposed to get. But now, after a long selection process, I can say that there is nobody out of the team that doesn’t make me happy and proud of the job and the mood they are providing on a daily basis.
What’s one ingredient you couldn’t do without? I’d say wine, but it’s the wrong place… so I say fresh herbs. In Italy we are quite lucky because Mother Nature gave us the best products from the land. We have amazing basil, oregano, rosemary, thymes, fennel and so on.
How does the food you make at home differ to what you prepare in the kitchen? What I offer every day to my customers is authentic Italian food, made of old recipes. I can say it’s really home made. Everything we offer is produced with the care and attention that every granny or mother in my country uses to make sure they are cooking good food. When I’m alone at home I usually get very lazy, and don’t cook that much. But if my family is with me or I have some friends to visit me, I always do my best to serve them a good meal. When you aren’t working, is there any place in Bahrain you like to eat? There are places very famous here where I don’t like at all to eat, while there are others where I enjoy food and ambience. The problem in Bahrain is that too many cultures are mixing together. The result is a universal taste in most of the restaurants, independent from which country that restaurant is inspired. Il Caffe, second floor, Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 564 544). Open daily 10am-10pm for breakfast, lunch and dinner