Ten years of Le Strade Della Mozzarella - The Roads of Mozzarella, the haute cuisine Italian food congress that has travelled from London to New York and Milan returned back to its roots for the grand finale in southern Italy's Paestum on 19 and 20 April.
As always, the event attracted participation from a collection of Italian and international chefs like Vladimir Mukhin, Gaggan Anand, Josean Alija and many more, riffing on some of Italy's most well known traditional ingredients under the spotlight.
Here's a taste of the two day event sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, full of encounters with Italy's beloved ingredients, that spoke not only of the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, but Italianity in every facet.
The Next Generation of Italian Chefs
A new generation of chefs inaugurated the tenth edition of Le Strade della Mozzarella: all aged 30 - or under- championing the future of gastronomy and, more specifically, the future of Italian cuisine: for Luca Abbruzzino (Abbruzzino Restaurant) the future is without doubt linked to the products of the territory, while for Marco Ambrosino (28 Posti) the evolution of gastronomy and the role of the chef will be tied to culture and food education, "our future will be tied to the institutions that call us to work with children or school meals, so we will make culture: we need to teach children in what season they eat a tomato, just as they are taught other things." Floriano Pellegrino (Bros) instead focused on the generational question: "We must be aware, we must find an identity: we are the generation of doing, not of victimism," adding, "Our best clients are under 30, the worst over 40 because they are firm on their position. "
Introducing the International Chefs:
Italian Food as Seen by Josean Alija of Nerua, Bilbao
Chef Josean Alija of Nerua restaurant in Bilbao's Guggenheim described his passion for Italy and how, explained that for him, Italian cuisine is the culmination of flavor, culture and style.
The chef, who has previously appeared on the LSDM stage, comes with a fascinating story. Having lost his sense of taste to an accident in the late 1990's, his subsequent road to recovery led him to finding his way into cooking in 2003.
In 2011, his efforts were eventually rewarded with his first Michelin star. Housed next to Nerua's kitchen he also has a workshop with five dedicated people, and a blog where his research projects and results are disseminated. His restaurant ranks 56th on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list and is a landmark for Basque cuisine.
Josean enjoyed reinterpreting Italian dishes and tastes: his tasty dish of tomatoes in a sauce with aromatic herbs and capers. Then a Parmigiana di Melanzane; with a twist using mozzarella cubes with an eggplant jus, accompanied by aromatic herbs.
The Panelle of Anna Hansen, The Modern Pantry, London
Who would have thought that a New Zealand chef working in London was capable of making delicious panelle with Buffalo Mozzarella? Anna Hansen, the chef at The Modern Pantry, a London restaurant based heavily on global inspiration embodies the motto "keep things simple", while her ability to combine flavors seems all but simple.
The Buffalo Mozzarella remained fresh in contact with a hot panelle and looked like the perfect connection between Sicily and India. Her ingredients of choice? Panella, with curry leaves, lemongrass, cumin seeds and black garlic.
The London restaurant, besides being famous for global cuisine, is above all a perfect example of a sustainable restaurant, when sustainable also takes into account allergies and intolerances "which for years the hospitality industry has refused to consider."
Vladimir Mukhin (re)discovers Mozzarella
Vladimir Mukhin, chef of White Rabbit in Moscow and World's 50 Best Restaurants regular, enthused "yesterday I ate the best mozzarella in my life" going on to reflect on the control water of mozzarella "An unexpected ingredient! Very salty and acidic at the same time".
The amazement in the Russian chefs eyes translated into spectacular dishes that reflected Russian flavors but took inspiration from Italian dishes or ingredients such as; Trout Caviar, Cucumbers, Burrata and Mozzarella water and a caprese with added fermented malt.
Gaggan Anand on the ParallelBetween Indian and Italian Cusine
From India to Thailand and Gaggan Anand, Asia's no.1 chef, who made his debut visit to LSDM in Paestum this year, selected buffalo ricotta for his Indian street food. The three time winner, listed at no.1 on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2017 recounted his story drawing a parallel between Italian and Indian cuisine, making the point that they both suffer from the same affliction: "Indian cuisine is like the Italian: Abroad it’s a disaster. People must believe in Indian culture and cuisine," and to do it Gaggan chose to go abroad to Bangkok "I came here 10 years ago; I chose Thailand because it was one of the few countries where Indians do not need a visa, and here it is okay, " he added, "I have to change India out of India."