Mario Gagliardi was born in Asti, but his career started in Frankfurt, moving on to France, Courmayeur, Porto Cervo and Bolzano. He finally came back to his roots working at Cascinale Nuovo in Isola d’Asti (one Michelin star) as second chef.
The chef is one of the finalists of The Vegetarian Chance, a festival organized by journalist Gabriel Eschenazi and Pietro Leemann, chef at Joia, in Milan. The first international vegetarian festival will be the occasion to discuss this rising life choice.
The Vegetarian Chance will be divided in two days: the first on June 7th at the Monte Verità, in Ascona, Switzerland, the second on June 22th at Joia where eight chefs will be competing with their vegetarian dish. The jury will be composed by Leemann, American chef Kristen Thibeault, the experts Marco Bianchi and Lorenzo Sonogini, journalist Davide Paolini and chef Luca Sacchi.
While we wait for the contest, Fine Dining Lovers met with Mario for a chat.
Describe yourself in three words
Precise, creative, ready for an exchange.
How do you define your cooking style?
I respect the ingredients, how they should be cooked, and I try to create harmony, I try to keep the original taste of the ingredient.
What are the products from the surrounding area that you use the most in your restaurant?
Nuts (tonda trilobata), cardi gobbi from Nizza Monferrato, square peppers from Motta di Costigliole, porri from Cervere and San Marzano Oliveto apples.
What do you think about the rise of the vegetarian and vegan diets?
It will make other chefs interested in the subject because they have to satisfy a very aware customer.
What is in your opinion the most iconic dish of vegan cuisine?
It’s pretty common, but I will say it anyway: a great salad with herbs, fruits, vegetables, legumes and a good dressing.
What do you see in your future as a chef?
I hope I can make my customers happy with new dishes that speak of the ingredients, real taste. The more you change the original quality of the ingredients, the more it hurts our bodies. I’ll have to do this with my wife Marzia, we’ve worked alongside for twelve years and have a one year old daughter, Giorgia.