Italian chef Igor Macchia tells us what to expect from his participation in Anantara Gourmet 2015.
You’re going to be representing Italy in a culinary clash with Mike Tafe at Ingredients restaurant on Wednesday April 15. Do you feel under pressure to make sure Italy comes out on top?
Every country has its own specialities. It’s not a matter of which country is better. I think Anantara Gourmet will be a great opportunity for guests and the chefs involved to get a better understanding of ingredients and the cooking philosophies of other countries. I don’t see any ‘competition’ in this kind of event.
Everyone already has a favourite Italian dish. Do you find it hard to be inventive with the cuisine?
I think for an everyday restaurant, people tend to prefer traditional cuisine, but for a one-off event, people are often interested in seeing and trying something new.
You’ll be in the kitchen at the Anantara Gourmet 2015 Gala Masquerade Ball on Thursday April 16 from 7pm at Qasr Al Sarab, which closes the festival, alongside several of the other participating chefs. Do you find collaborating easier or more problematic?
It’s always nice to work with other chefs. You can get new ideas, new inspiration, and for sure a lot of fun and noise.
You’ve travelled extensively. Which is your favourite country to visit for its cuisine? Are there any countries you’ve visited that have really surprised you?
Every country I visit surprises me in many ways, so I really don’t have a favourite country for food. While I enjoy Japanese sushi, at the same time I really love Chinese cuisine. Also, Arabic food offers some very interesting tastes and recipes. In Taiwan I found fabulous dumplings, while the intricacies of Thai food continues to intrigue me. I always find something new to enjoy wherever I travel, and that’s usually what makes me want to come back and visit again.
Seafood Fantasea: Dhs350. April 15, 7pm-11. Ingredients restaurant; Italian Masterclass: Dhs300. April 15, 10.30am-2.30pm. Mangroves Ballrom.