After nearly a decade in journalism and having interviewed a decent number of people, I can safely say I have the ability to distinguish between people who speak to you for publicity and those who want to share more about their passion. Chef Mauro Ferrari is willing to do the former but it’s the latter that shines through his eyes when he speaks to you about food.
A native of Milan but having travelled across the globe to share his creativity with food, Chef is an entrepreneur, a brand ambassador and a sommelier.
Snippets from a quick conversation with Chef Ferrari who is always keen to speak about food – be it for a blog like From The Corner Table or a journalist from a leading English daily. Watch out for the recipe shared by the Chef – simple and healthy, this one is sure to be a winner.
I decided to become a chef when I was 10 years old and I never changed my mind. Never ever. I remember telling my father that I want to become a cook. The family tried to convince me to change my mind citing several reasons, but I stuck to my choice. So eventually, they helped me choosing the best schools for me and from there began the journey. I think the inspiration probably came from time spent with my family that likes to cook; and watching my father and grandfather cooking meals for the family.
My curiosity! I am curious about food from different places and I’ve learned a lot from books. My house is filled with books from across the world – I’ve around 150 books on food alone. I also have a subscription for a local monthly food magazine for 21 years now and I’ve saved all the magazines!
Curiosity is the key to success in the kitchen. The secret to succeeding in life, and in the kitchen, is love and passion for what you do and curiosity. You must try eating everything. Only then you will know the difference. Eat it once before deciding whether you like something. How else will you learn?
Food preferences (or not)…
I eat everything! Absolutely everything! I like good food. I like to try new combinations and new textures. Only after trying food I can decide whether I like it or not. There is no food that is not good for me.
When planning a menu, I put in 100 per cent of myself. Every single dish has my touch. The most important part is to transport my culture through food – I connect with the food and vice versa. And it is that connect that is reflected in the food. If you can interact well with the food then you can make some successful dishes. That is very important.
There is no strange food but if you must ask, then I would say big ants fried like chips. It was amazing! I ate them for the first time in Milan almost 10 years ago.
Fusion food is an absolute yes! If I learn different recipes and techniques in the kitchen, then I need to mix and match to create something different, something more. To be an Italian chef does not mean you are limited in the Italian kitchen.
Indian spices & food…
Cooking in India is difficult. Italian food does not use so many spices, its mostly natural produce. But I use spices in different ways to create something new. For example, a simple dish of mousseline potatoes seasoned with some cardamom powder tastes amazing. It’s one of the plenty combinations that are possible.
I like eating Indian food but I don’t eat spicy food, especially something very spicy. Chennai is home when I’m in India and with food there being very spicy, I tend not to experiment much. The best type of food is street food but Indian street food is too spicy for me. So I have to be careful.
The satisfaction and happiness of those who eat food made by me. I put my love and passion in the food I make so I like it when people are enthusiastic about meeting me because they feel I’ve given them a new experience. That is the moment I’ve successfully transported my love to this set of new people. These people have understood what I want to put forth through those dishes.
Food is food. Everybody eats for survival but if you put in effort in making the food and the presentation, when that food reaches the table, people start first eating with their eyes and then the taste.
My philosophy in life. I want to have the best life available because we have only one life. Work is a part of my life but it’s not the primary focus. I have a nice balance in life –I work around 8 to 9 hours but there are 24 hours in the day. Work, family, yourself – everything has to be balanced. Without that balance, you cannot enjoy life.
A take on the classic Italian 'milanese' style of cooking
- 400 gms Chicken breast (boneless)
- 2 Eggs
- 150 gms Bread crumbs
- 100 gms Refined flour
- 300 ml Clarified butter
- 2 Boiled potatoes (medium sized)
- 1 Red onion (large)
- 1 sprig Thyme (fresh)
- 50 gms Basil mayonnaise
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (as required)
- For basil mayonnaise, make basil pesto and blend with eggless mayonnaise in a blender till smooth.
- Peel and cut the potato into thin slices.
- Slice onion.
- In a sauté pan, add butter and cook onion till it becomes translucent.
- Add potato, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Mix well and reserve in pan.
- Clean chicken breast and trim any fat.
- Break eggs in a bowl, whisk it.
- Dust chicken with refined flour, and then dip in beaten egg followed by a dusting of bread crumbs.
- Heat a thick base frying pan and add clarified butter. Once the butter is hot, gently place the breaded chicken breast in the butter and cook.
- Cook until the chicken breast is golden brown on both sides.
- In a plate, spoon some sautéed potatoes. Arrange chicken on top of it. Arrange a handful of fresh and crispy lettuce seasoned with lemon vinaigrette.
- Plate basil mayonnaise on side and serve hot.
Feature photo: Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad
Others: Aashima Kadakia
This post has been done in collaboration with Hyatt Regency, Ahmedabad. All views expressed are purely the author’s point of view and not sponsored.