A chef’s love song to Oman
Through the kitchen glass at Tomato, InterContinental Muscat, you can see award winning Italian Chef Luigi Ferraro plating a colourful mélange of ingredients that reflect his Italian roots and his innovative streak. With the weather taking a pleasant turn and the music playing through the soothing ambience of the restaurant, when the dish finally turns up at the table, it seems like a culinary rendition of a love song.
The chef said this is especially true, in the case of his love for the sultanate where he once lived. Currently the executive sous chef at InterContinental Regency Bahrain, Chef Ferraro is on a short visit to the sultanate. Hailing from Calabria in Italy, the chef is well known for incorporating his love for his beloved land into his dishes. His book Calabria in all ways, a journey with Luigi Ferraro features his signature recipes along with his introduction to the cultural and culinary elements of the place.
At Tomato, the three-course dinner that he prepared reiterated the Italians’ genuine love for good food. Chef Ferraro feels the need to be an ambassador and bring authentic Italian flavours to consumers outside of Italy. At the same time, he values innovative and creative techniques in modern cooking. The outcome of this is Italian food served with a twist. From balsamic caviar on ravioli to seafood in saffron sauce to succulent variations of beef, the dishes not only appease the palate but are also a work of art visually. “I love to bring the correct Italian dishes to people outside of Italy… It’s more like traditional dishes with an innovative touch,” said Chef Ferraro. “I used the same ingredients, just changed the style and innovated a bit.”
He grew up in a culture that celebrates good food, watching his mother and grandmother cook and since an early age, he has been passionate about Italian food. After mastering the secrets of traditional Italian food, Chef Ferraro adapted new cooking techniques that gained momentum worldwide. “In food too, technology has advanced and there are so many methods that can be used today to enhance a culinary experience for the consumer.”
As an example, he explained that a classic dish like ‘aubergine parmigiana’ (parmesan aubergine) can be modified by using the same ingredients in a different format. “You can use tomato jelly instead of the sauce and this keeps the essence of the traditional dish and at the same time brings in a new element,” he said.
There are myriad methods, Chef Ferraro pointed out, when it comes to innovation, such as foaming, slow cooking, using gelatins or combinations of hot and cold elements etc. These techniques are complimented by the consumer demand for a ‘good food experience’. “Earlier, people had reservations against moving away from traditional dishes, but now innovative combinations are encouraged.”
Chef Ferraro is in the sultanate till March 14, to unveil the new menu at Tomato along with executive chef Emmanuel Pauliat.
Oman holds a special place for Chef Ferraro. “I’ve lived in this country before and I was sad when I had to leave because the city is amazing, the Omani people are beautiful human beings and my family and I enjoyed our time here.” So he is happy to be back in the sultanate, even if it’s just for a few days, to dish out his flavour filled love for the country. “I can dedicate these dishes I am creating here to Oman.”