To celebrate Milan Fashion Week, in our very own FDL style, we challenged some of the city's most creative chefs to develop dishes inspired by fashion trends from the 2013 Fall/Winter collection.
'Tartan', 'Black and White' and 'Gold' were the three highlighted trends with each chef given their chance to create a dish inspired by a chosen theme. First was Matteo Baronetto from the Cracco restaurant who produced an elegant 'Black and White' plate using a creation by Gianfranco Ferré as his inspiration.
Today we visit the colorful chef Matias Perdomo from Al Pont De Ferr in Milan. Known for his emotional food, strong use of color, illumination and a cerebral approach to cuisine, Matias was challenged to create a dish using 'Tartan' and a creation from the Italian fashion brand Moschino as his inspiration.
FDL caught up with Matias just after the dish was finished to find out exactly how he managed to produce a tartan pattern using beef sashimi, how he found the challenge and discover his views on the worlds of fashion and food. For those brave enough to attempt the dish at home, here's the recipe.
How was the 'Dress The Plate' challenge for you?
It was difficult, but if you already know the target, there is only one way to realize it. I wanted to truly represent the tartan but with something you could actually eat. If I had to make a personal interpretation of the texture nobody would really understand the similarity with the image. So the idea for my Tartan Sashimi was to represent it with flavors from the forest: raw meats, truffle, porcini mushrooms, everything to show that the texture of the fabric was heavy.
What was the most rewarding and most difficult part of the challenge?
For me the best part was to try and succeed in making all these different lines and textures with meat. Making the stamp and the silicone mold was certainly the most difficult part - it took me 36-hours to finish the tartan stamp.
Tell us about the process of created this dish.
The dish was not easy, there was a big mix of colors and every color has its own flavor. The background is red, there were many lines mixing and changing. The easiest way was to make a stamp, I made a stamp with polystyrene using a hot iron and an argyle pattern to create grooves. I then used silicon to make the mold. Working the meat in that shape was not easy.
I tried to really understand the particular texture of tartan - for me it is a heavy texture, not thin like silk or cotton, good for the mountains - so I used raw sashimi meat and truffles, thinking about the mountains, this was my idea. Near the end for the lines I made a number of colored sauces and piped them using a sac à poche. The black lines taste of truffle, the reds taste of red wine, there's some umeboshi (Japanese Slat Plums), some spicy flavors, some parsley and other herbs. There's also some acidic elements - all of the flavors remind me of the mountains. For me tartan is mountains, autumn and cold.
What do you think is interesting about the fashion world?
I don't go crazy for fashion, but I think it's interesting how fashion designers can find inspiration in anything. How fashion regenerates itself and changes with time, how the trends follow one after the other - organic stuff and so on - and how fashion dictates changes.
What do fashion and food have in common?
They are similar because fashion is something that makes you feel good, and this is true for the surface. It represents one's identity, one's style, how one dresses. The kitchen, instead, is something you don't see but it makes you feel good inside. It's two different sides but the creative process is similar. Aesthetics have their charm, the effect of a dish and a dress at first sight are equally important.
Why are they different?
The creative process is similar, the two things come from Nature but the difference is that fashion makes you feel good on the surface, food makes you feel good on the inside.
You're famous for your use of color: can you tell us more about this?
For me every colour has a flavor, when you create a color in a dish it should identify the dish's message or the true emotion that the dish represents... A wrong colour is a wrong flavor.
What's process do you go through when creating new dishes?
There are many ways. We have a memory of taste, but there is also the memory of a dish, of an emotion, of a Sunday. You can start with these sensations, using the flavors that are in your memory and try to spread them in some new way. You can find inspiration in a landscape, in a photograph, a picture or in a music. You can also get the inspiration from fashion and try to transform that into a dish. Each process has its route and this ends when the dish is finished.
Have you ever started a dish creation with an image like this?
I have a "Mosaic" dish, it's inspired by a Torregarcia picture. He's a Uruguayan artist.
Can food be art?
No, I believe that we are artisans, not artists. We are artisans because we grab a product, we transform it, and we serve it. Manipulation of a product is a craftsmanship. Manipulating an apple, peeling it, cutting it, cooking it, is craftsmanship. Art is an instant where an internal mechanism moves some emotions. A flash, is a small piece of art. A picture is art, maybe it doesn't move me, but it has been the expression of a person. Expressing and transforming is between craftsmanship and art. But me, I am an artisan, I work.
Now a three-Michelin-star restaurant, Noma has changed, but not necessarily on the plate. According to Kenneth Foong, it's all about the way the team works, which is closer to a tech company than a traditional restaurant. Read our exclusive interview with Noma's head chef.