If there is one thing I have learned in life it is: when opportunity knocks grab it with both hands. That is exactly what I did when I was asked if I would like to interview Italian chef Marianna Vitaleof Sud Ristorante,recipient of a Michelin star. This interview opportunity was offered to me as I was trying to get my first interview for Pickle My Fancy’s CHEF TALK: FIRE IT UP!segment with the Executive Chef of Bice Mare . This gesture taught me that Chefs are not competitive (not like in the corporate world I am used to), but more like promoters and supporters of each other.
Chef Marianna Vitale
Sud Ristorante, in
Quarto (in the hinterland of Campi Flegrei), North-West of Naples
Welcome to Dubai! Is this your first visit to Dubai? Tell us a little bit about why you are visiting Dubai?
My first visit to Dubai was in November 2014 when I attended the Italian Cuisine World Summit and it is also where I met Francesco (Executive Chef Francesco Guarracino) of Bice Mare. I think he was impressed with my unique style of creating dishes (
winks and smiles
) that he invited me back to Dubai. My visit to Dubai is also the perfect opportunity for us to promote the upcoming summer event called ‘
are many cuisines around the world, but perhaps none of them focuses on
the type of painstaking, all-day work and preparation that Italian
cuisine does. That's because much of the food served throughout Italy
simply requires a great deal of work to cook and prepare. Pasta is often
made by hand using fresh ingredients while sauces take all day to cook
and properly seasoned. Aged cheeses and fresh breads, essential to
finishing off any truly authentic Italian meal, sometimes take multiple
days or months to prepare. That's why the Italian tradition treats every
meal as a celebration and as a reward: That meal, at least historically
speaking, often took months of preparation so that each fresh
ingredient could be properly aged and integrated into the dishes being
A Simple Way to Cook a Fulfilling Meal
Though Italian cuisine
often involves a whole day of preparing, and some of its ingredients
must age for months at a time, the actual preparation of an Italian meal
is very straightforward. This is especially true when considering the
advanced techniques and delicate ingredients used in French and German
dishes, for instance, which often compete with Italian cuisine as a
leading choice of diners around the world. The Italian philosophy of
cooking makes it simple to prepare a beautiful, tasty dish for an entire
family without having advanced culinary experience.
This aspect of cooking reflects Italian culture: In many regions of Italy, the central point of connexion for large families is a meal freshly prepared at home. Home cooks, unlike restaurant chefs, rely on a series of basic culinary skills and processes. That carries through to today's Italian cuisine at the leading restaurants around the world. While the flavours are amazingly complex, the process of bringing those flavours to the table remains a relatively simple labour of love.
Italian Food Encourages Sharing and Conversation
proper Italian meal goes well beyond the dishes being served for lunch
or dinner. In fact, delicious Italian cuisine often serves not as the
star of the show, but as the background to a long conversation that
involves family, friends, and neighbourhood acquaintances. Throughout
Italian history, one thing has remained constant: A good meal was served
only to form the basis of a good conversation. Italians are known for
taking hours at a time to finish a meal, with ample sources of protein,
pasta, and locally fermented wines.
Perhaps due to an Italian meal's social legacy, developed over many generations, the country has become known for its "endless" meals that involve many courses. Most traditional Italian meals start off with light meats, vegetables, or cheeses, and progress through at least four different courses that involve a heavier "entree" meal and light snacks. A dessert option is typically offered as well, once the conversation has begun to wind down and guests are beginning to transition to dessert wines or coffees. It is often said that the best way to judge the success of an Italian meal is by the level of conversation that it encourages, and it's easy to see why that legend has become the case not only in Italy, but in Italian restaurants around the world.
Italian Food is the Original "Melting Pot" Cuisine
immigration patterns have allowed the world to shrink, in some sense,
with the mingling of cultures and cuisines throughout all of the
continents. Even so, this type of melting pot is not something that
should be considered new or original. In fact, Italian cuisine has been
melding flavours and regional identities for centuries. As mentioned
earlier, modern Italian cuisine originates from 20 different regions now
grouped together as a single country. Even before that formal union,
however, Italians were borrowing each other's techniques and recipes.
The type of cuisine that is most commonly "exported" internationally is
one that has blended Roman, Greek, Sicilian, and Etruscan cooking styles
By melding together the best parts of Italian cuisine, culture, and conversation, Italian food has become a conversation piece all on its town. Today, it represents simple cooking, complex flavours, and comforting conversations among friends. No matter where someone is or where they're from, those elements of a meal can make any day, and any cuisine, very special indeed.
Few cuisines have managed to travel the world and become as popular as Italian cuisine , with restaurants that serve up authentic Italian dishes located in almost every major urban centre and country internationally. This is not something that happened by accident, however. Italian food has evolved over many generations, and the unique care and ingredients that go into every dish are designed to inspire an authentic connexion to Italian history, culture, and connexions, no matter where the dish is served. To understand what makes Italian food so unique, so special, and so globally popular, consider its origins and what goes into every item on a typical Italian menu.
Over 20 Different Regions of Unique Cuisine
The great thing about Italian cuisine is that it's an extremely diverse set of recipes, cooking techniques, and multi-generational traditions. Indeed, Italy as a country didn't come into existence until the middle of the 19th century. Until that point, modern Italy was made up of 20 different regions that developed independent cuisines based on local traditions, climates, and availability of diverse ingredients. To understand Italian cuisine is to understand the difference between Tuscan, Florentine, and Sicilian cooking styles, among many others. Each region took advantage of its location and traditions to shape modern Italian food . Steaks, pasta dishes, and seafood dishes, come from different regions and are often cooked with different spices based on their origin.
pizzas just out of the oven, some of the best risotto in the world,
every kind of pasta available and Italian wines with every course. Then,
top it off with a perfect espresso. All of this was courtesy of the
seventh World Summit of Italian Cuisine in Dubai from October
27-November 5, 2015.
The big kickoff of the Italian Cuisine World Summit was held at the home of the Consul General of Italy, Giovanni Favelli. The producers, sponsors and partners of the summit were also present, and chefs from Italian restaurants in Dubai provided the fine cuisine. Chefs from restaurants that hosted visiting chefs also attended. Director of the summit, Rosario Scarpato, addressed the gathering about the theme and activities of this year's event. This must be the definition of an enjoyable "meeting."
Michelin-Star Chefs Gala was themed "United Nations by Italian Cuisine,"
charging chefs with creating dishes uniting ingredients from around the
world. Open to Dubai residents and visitors for AED 200.00, the food
and wine was a connoisseur's dream. There are not many opportunities to
enjoy food created by several Michelin-starred-chefs all in one place.
Plan now for next year's summit and come hungry if feasting on incredible Italian cuisine is on the bucket list. Dubai has been recognized as a world food center with outstanding Italian restaurants as well as a tourist destination on a global scale. The 170 chefs from around the world participating in various events made it a foodie's dream since many possess Michelin stars.
Master classes from a few chefs with Michelin stars added excitement to the thrill of actually eating the food. Contests for best pasta, pizza, risotto and espresso amped up the already high expectations of attendees, so the winners had to be pleased with their achievements. The fortunate tasters may have been even more pleased.
experts and the media also attend this summit, making it a "something
for everyone" kind of attraction. It's a good way to see Dubai and eat
like royalty. Many travellers would not associate finding outstanding
Italian food here, and now it's an accepted part of the landscape.
The first weekend of the summit, the Specialty Food Festival Awards were presented, and the Specialty Food Festival offered gourmet foods for the tasting. Seafood, snacks and confections, new and familiar, and non-gourmet products were on display. Many commercial enterprises were able to learn of the latest trends in artisan and premium delicacies for future business ventures. The broad range of international chefs' creations at this event contributed to a tasty and fascinating weekend.
Quite a few guests walked off some calories during the Italian Summit Golfing Day at the Address Montgomerie Golf Club in Dubai . There's a good view of the city from the greens, and great golfers played some excellent golf. Afterwards, however, the wine dinner for 250 VIP guests wowed everyone involved. Prepared by four Italian chefs with Michelin stars, this dinner was the icing on the golfing cake.
Chef and golfer Emiliano Bernasconi, Culinary Director of the Jas Hospitality Group, knows how to combine food and sport and is one of the promoters of this tournament. The golfing day is a fun way to meet, greet and network with others in the food industry. Another part of the tournament day includes a look at some luxury goods and services from Italy available in the UAE and Dubai. There are other interests outside of food, but the diners have Michelin stars in their eyes.