Chef Susy Massetti gives us the lowdown on new Bahrain restaurant, Masso
Time Out Bahrain staff
First of all, what is your role with the hotel and day-to-day responsibility? How many restaurants do you work in? I’m the chef and patron of a new Southern European restaurant called Masso. My total attention is devoted to this new project as it is, in one sense, a dream come true for me and for the owners. Like any newborn baby it requires lots of attention. I’m working in the front and back of the restaurant, dividing my day between my kitchen and the dining room, creating, testing and standardising recipes.
I do spend a lot of time with my service team as well, we have been training for almost three months now. From culinary knowledge to regional food to beautiful beverages coming from all over Europe and the new world. I’m a firm believer that great service starts with great knowledge of your products. We are also involved in other outlets at the Palace Hotel as well producing the breads, breakfast pastries and desserts for the hotel’s other outlets in our bakery.
What is your background? Why did you want to become a chef? I’m Italian and was literally born in my grandmother and mom’s restaurant kitchen. I believe it was fate. I never wanted to be anything else but a chef since I saw my mother, grandma and aunties working everyday, cooking and serving customers in our trattoria. With us kids roaming around, it was such a fun, noisy, happy environment I can’t think of anything better to do with my life.
Do you have a favourite type of cuisine? When you eat out, where do you like to go? Needless to say I love food, all food from anywhere in the world. I can’t think of anything I do not like. I love all seafood, Far Eastern, Lebanese and modern Indian cuisines. I travel for food and I can try or taste pretty much anything. I must admit that I do not go out very often, my schedule and my hours are crazy. Besides, I love to cook and have people around to my kitchen and prepare food for them. I do adore a good shawarma and good sushi.
Which are your favourite restaurants in Bahrain? Where have you been to? As I say, I don’t go out very often at all but when I do, I like small little places off the beaten path. I have few Bahraini friends and they always know little corners where you can have a fantastic little taste of something.
Is there an ingredient or kitchen gadget you couldn’t be without? A good knife. I’m protective of my knives and work only with them. I travel with them too. Tell us about what the restaurant has in the works food-wise. Well, in few simple words nothing ordinary. I really want to hear ‘Wow’ whatever I bring to the table and we are working with that in mind. What I want is to enhance the quality of the ingredients I’m using. I’m not cutting corners anywhere and I’ve spent months outsourcing suppliers and ingredients and I spare no effort. Believe me it is not an expensive exercise – it only takes passion and a bit of time but you can find incredible gems. For example, my peppers were just delivered few days ago from Nice in France. When I was there last year I found this little shop in a small street near the Place du Massenat that had an incredible collection of spices, salts and peppers. I know it might sound silly but you will have to come and taste some of the dishes to understand what a difference it makes to sprinkle a beef carpaccio with a wild Java pepper rather than the common black pepper that you would find in any supermarket.
Is there one dish you specialise in, or something people always ask you to make? Well my seafood ceviche is definitely one, and my pumpkin and sage ravioli follows close behind.
What do you think about the supply of fresh ingredients available in Bahrain? With a bit of time and dedication you can find almost anything you want. When it comes to fresh produce, however, we are in a fantastic position. We have an organic garden in Budaya and just completed the basic soil preparation. We start seeding soon and in six to nine months we will be completely independent from any supplier. We will be able to produce pretty much anything we need, including herbs and delicate vegetables that today we are importing from all over the world. We have obtained organic and heirloom seeds of incredible vegetables and herbs and we sure hope to be only the first ones on the island to do so. It will be good for everyone, the local growers,the final customers and even Mother Earth.
What would you like to be doing in five years’ time? I do have few things in mind and more projects almost planned out, all here in Bahrain or in the immediate vicinity. I like this little island I consider it my home, I feel very welcome here and appreciated and I’m not planning on leaving, at least not soon and five years will fly away very fast. Masso, Adliya (17 725 000). Open Mon-Sun noon-3pm and 7pm-midnight.
Seviche De Pescado
Ingredients • Hammour, (must be super fresh) cut in thin strips - 250 grm • Lime juice – 30cl • Lemon juice – 30cl • Fresh coriander leaves, 1 small bunch picked • Green chilli- 1 small, seeded and thinly sliced • Red onion, 1 medium sliced very thin • Salt & pepper, to taste • Black sesame seeds (toasted) – 1 tbs
Method For the seviche • Place the fish strips in a bowl Add coriander, capsicum, red onion, and chilli • Add the lemon & lime juice and toss to combine • Press down the mixture and marinate for a minimum of 15 min to maximum 2 hours • Taste and adjust salt and pepper • To assemble the seviche, squeeze gently the mixture and place it in chilled plates and serve immediately A crusty loaf of bread is the ideal accompaniment for this fresh dish.