‘The Indian food culture is really a never-ending discovery’: Chef Marco Stabile – The Indian Express

By on November 12, 2021

In an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, the master cook talks about his journey, the challenges that come with being a Michelin-star chef, Indian cuisine and the one food he really wishes to try and why. Excerpts:

When and how did your love affair with food begin?

My love for food goes back in time, to when I was a child and loved staring at my grandma’s kitchen table while she cooked instead of going outside to play football with my friends. I would say it’s a passion I have always had in my mind and my heart. And I followed it!

How would you describe your journey over the years?

If I had to use only one word, I would say – Beautiful. It’s been a very challenging, demanding, tortuous but at the same time beautiful and rewarding journey. Many things have passed by, and I do not regret any of them. They made me grow and become the chef (and person) I am now.

You are a Michelin-star chef; what is the most challenging thing about being one?

Living and coping with the expectations. I expect always the best from me and my team. My goal, every day, is to give pleasure to my clients, and make them live a special experience at Ora d’Aria’s tables. I love doing it because I love to share my love for food with them. It’s like sharing a passion and it’s incredibly wonderful doing it through my dishes and my ideas of food.

As a master of Tuscan food, can you tell us more about it in detail?

Tuscany is my region. I was born in Pontedera and my working life has mostly been in Florence. I have always loved going back to my roots and my memories, looking to ancient recipes and transforming them into something that could be appreciated nowadays. The past is a richness, mainly in food. And the regional cuisines of Italy (like the Tuscan one) are a treasure that must be loved, observed and enhanced.

You have visited India on quite a few occasions — what all have you tried here, and what did you like the most?

When I was in India, food for me was a magic and it attracted my curiosity very much. I tried several dishes and I think the Indian food culture is really a never-ending discovery. Particularly, I love samosa, butter chicken, garlic naan, gulab jamun with saffron, tandoori cooking in general, and curry in every possible way (not too spicy, eh).

One Indian ingredient you are fascinated with, and why?

I absolutely love tandoori masala. It’s magic to see how tandoori gives food an unexpected deepness in flavour and a never-ending ‘umami’.

Indian cuisine finds itself in a prominent position on the global culinary map. Do you think the full potential of the cuisine has been recognised across the globe?

I think Indian cuisine should be known more than it is nowadays. The biggest part of Indian cuisine is yet to be discovered by the world.

 The pandemic affected the food industry in a huge way. What do you think has been its biggest learning?

The pandemic has been a very difficult phase for all of us, all around the world. A lot has already been said about it, I don’t want to add anything new but would like to affirm that our life, professional and personal, has changed in the last year and a half. As a restaurant owner and a chef, I too have had to face a lot of problems. But now I want to think positive and put all my energies into my future plans. As we say in Italy, “I have been warped but not broken.”

The one dish you really wish to try and why?

I’d like to try some version of meetha paan, because I really love fermented food and I like eating food ‘folded’ in leaves.

Have you ever experimented with Indian cuisine? If not, would you like to?

Yes, I tried to do my version of gulab jamun and my girlfriend sometimes makes samosas at home.

If you had to name one ingredient you feel is the most versatile, what would you pick and why?

Masala in general. Once you find the homemade/real version of it, it becomes impossible not to use it in every dish!

Tell us about about your experience of being a part of Fabelle’s Heart of Gold collection.

It’s been a pleasure collaborating on such a nice and interesting project and in co-curating a master piece using edible gold as an element which holds a very strong sentiment for consumers in India. Though it’s not been easy to cooperate from such a distance, but I do believe that together we did a great job. The result is a fabulous quality chocolate that just melts in your mouth!

The Heart of Gold Collection has been crafted to acknowledge and celebrate the extra ordinary feats achieved by select illustrious citizens and organisations whose meaningful contributions have helped in nation building and helped society at large. The pralines highlight their characteristic virtues like valour, knowledge, compassion, purity and persistence. It is the amalgamation of all these qualities that have been reimagined in the form of pralines with 24 karat edible gold. I take pride in being a storyteller and use edible gold in a dish to enliven elements of the comprehensive narrative thereby introducing consumers to a superior multi sensorial culinary realm.

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