Matteo Rizzo left his birth city of Verona to travel to Rome, London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas as a learning experience. According to him his best teachers were his parents. It’s been a few years since he’s adopted a vegetarian diet, which he says improved his health and attitude in sports. He is working at The Desco, in Verona, which has two stars, and soon will be traveling to Seoul and Taipei to introduce his cooking over there.
Matteo Rizzo 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 Matteo for a chat.
Describe yourself in three words.
Stubborn, sensitive, curious.
How do you define your cooking style?
Tradition and territory form the base of my cooking. I keep in mind the primary nature of an ingredient, I want to show how something tasty can be easy to prepare. I think you can get to the essence of something by eliminating the superfluous. I want to reduce fats and I use natural products, always sticking to no more than three ingredients at once.
Do you usually cook vegan in your restaurant? If so, since when? Why did you choose vegan?
I’ve started a vegetarian diet a couple of years ago. That’s why you can see a vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu, I am careful about taste and health issues.
What are the products from the surrounding area that you use the most in your restaurant?
Vegetables: small Vialone rice, asparagus, peaches, cherries, Porcini mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage. Other: snails, codfish.
What do you think about the rise of the vegetarian and vegan diets?
People are more conscious. It’s a positive thing that impacts a lot of issues: environment, ethics, and very important, health.
What is in your opinion the most iconic dish of vegan cuisine?
Spaghetti with tomatoes and basil.
What do you see in your future as a chef?
I want to grow my own ingredients and become more and more vegetarian.