Paolo Griffa is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 Italian finalist. Griffa, of two Michelin-starred Piccolo Lago Restaurant in Verbania, will cook his signature dish of Tripe & Foie Gras at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June. He spoke to us ahead of the big event.
Tell us about your signature dish: what is its strongest point?
It’s authentic Italian! Tripe has always been a part of Italian culture. From north to south, it is prepared in different ways, so it represents a vision of Italy which hasn’t been exploited like pasta and rice. You have to go to small niche restaurants to find tripe, so it’s an undiscovered gem. Another strong point is the fatty liver - a typical Italian delicacy since the Roman period.
What made you decide to be come a chef?
The passion for good food. I like to eat not only to nourish but to fully appreciate the products, technical knowledge, cultures and lifestyles. You can tell a lot about a person’s life from how he or she eats.
Which chef or chefs inspire you daily and why?
I am inspired by every cook from all over the world. Whether they make gourmet or street food, every chef has something to teach. I’m inspired by eating in restaurants, in trattorias, at the market or directly from the fields and woods. There is nothing more beautiful than the diversity behind this work and the people who do it for passion every day.
What’s the best dish you’ve ever tasted - where did you eat it, who cooked it?
I’ve eaten many dishes around the world and every one has always left me something, good or bad. But the best has yet to come.
What’s the most challenging aspect of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for you?
The cultural differences between the various participants and jury members. Each has a different background and different taste experiences, so arriving at a unanimous judgment will not be easy.
What kind of help/guide would you like from your mentor Cristina Bowerman?
My mentor and I are very different, we come from different traditions, so it will be interesting to work together.
What will you do if you win this competition?
I will continue to work as I do every day... maybe with fewer bottles of champagne in the cellar.