Cook who’s talking

Emiliano Bernasconi executive chef, and Sebastiano Spriveri guest chef at Quattro talk to Time Out


What do you think of the culinary scene in Dubai?
Sebastiano: From what I can see, I business is still happening here. Restaurants are always full, which is impressive. It’s very different to Europe, which is really suffering due to the economic situation.

Is it hard to cater to so many different nationalities?
Emilano: Guests tend to try dishes they are already aware of. But we try and train them to acquire new tastes. Diners often ask me to make some-thing I recommend. That’s one of the things I really love about Dubai, the people do try to become more open and try a wider variety of dishes.

What do you think about the organic food debate?
Sebastiano: Organic foods are expensive. But we do use them sometimes, because there are people who only eat organic food.

What do you think is the perfect Italian meal?
Emilano: The perfect Italian meal is very hard to describe because Italy is very different from region to region. North and south Italy have very different concepts of Italian food. An Italian version of a perfect meal is one where you sit down and you eat great and genuine food, and you get up from the table happy, with the urge to eat more.

Sebastiano: For us, the perfect Italian meal is when you sit and have risotto, a main course and also a dessert. Obviously the important thing is that it is good food.

Why have I never had a pizza as good as the ones in Italy?
Sebastiano: Every pizzeria in Italy has its own little secret, though our pizza is helped by our ingredients as well.

Emiliano: When making pizza it has to come from the heart, not just the hands. That’s the secret.

Italian cuisine is the best in the world. Discuss?
Emiliano: I almost agree with the statement but I think Italian cuisine is one of the best in the world. The concept of our food is healthy. But there are other foods that, though not as good as Italian, are nearly there.

Which country do you think has the most thriving culinary scene?
Sebastiano: I was in Mumbai to do an Italian promotion and I was really impressed by the quality of food, and by how they make the curry and with the effort they put in to make it happen.

You won Time Out’s Best Italian restaurant award. Why do you think you deserve it?
Emiliano: I had a chance to see almost all the Italian restaurants in town. But everything seemed to be the same. It was kind of boring because you always found the same items like pizza, spaghetti and classic Italian food. But this is not real Italian food. It’s the most commercial food from our country. So I decided to be creative and cook in a different style. Give the food a modern European touch, yet make it 100 per cent Italian. So we have to be a little different from all the other 70 Italian restaurants in town. I did something that I really believed in and, thanks to Time Out, I got the recognition.

How do you plan to stay ahead of the game?
Emiliano: The easy part is to win the award, the difficult part is to keep it. I want to maintain our standards and provide a real Italian experience.

What’s the one dish that I absolutely have to try at your restaurant?
Emiliano: If you are a good chef, in my point of view, there is no one dish that you can only recommend. You need to try every dish. But, if you visit, just look for two cute Italian chefs and ask us to make something for you. It will be the best dish you will have ever tried.
Interview: Tania Shaikh.

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