Davide Scabin is one of the of the most inventive Italian chefs and a pioneer who started a new chapter in the Italian modern cuisine scene, showing that the country’s gastronomy could go ahead without forgetting its own culinary roots. Scabin’s cuisine has become famous for merging traditional flavors and highly unconventional cooking methods.
Son of a driver and a cook, Davide Scabin started working early, even if he didn’t go directly into food. He even had plans to become a computer hacker. But after attending catering college, he once sold cosmetic products for a living, and only found his way into the kitchen in 1994, when he embraced his passion for food and opened his first trattoria in Almese (Turin, Italy) called Combal.
Focused on traditional trattoria dishes, but always favoring regional ingredients, he gradually began to show his creativity in innovative recipes. A chef in continuous development, revolutionary in his thought, his reinterpretations of classics made his small trattoria start to attract the attention of gastronomy lovers around Italy and all over Europe. As his space was starting to get small for his increasingly ambitious and famous creations, in 2000 he decided to open the restaurant in a new location, within the Castello di Rivoli. Under even a new name, Combal.Zero, he felt freer to begin to experiment with ingredients, shapes, textures and temperatures.
Over the years Combal.Zero has gained international recognition and countless accolades and awards and was ranked No. 28 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2011. The same year that The New York Time’s food critic, Frank Bruni, wrote a review about the restaurant claiming that it was “one of the oddest and happiest dining experiences” he’d ever had. He was considered by Times magazine “one of the ten chefs around the world that change your life”.
Combal.Zero was also acknowledged with Gambero Rosso’s Three Forks, a proof of the energy and the passion Scabin channels into his cooking. The restaurant, which was awarded two Michelin stars, lost one of it in 2015, and social media in Italy was all the rage following the loss: thousands of people have shared a design created by Torino based designer Bob Noto with the words “Je Suis Scabin” in protest to the French Guide decision.
The charming restaurant is located in the Piazza Mafalda di Savoia, inside the Rivoli castle building which dates back to before the 11th century and is now a contemporary art museum. Scabin and his crew serve mouth-watering Italian cuisine with a modern touch, based on creative recipes that made him one of the most famous chefs in the Italian new food scene. It is the case of his Spaghetti Margherita (an elegant composition of black and white noodle sheets, tomato sauce, anchovies, basil, fermented black garlic, and chili oil) and his Steak Cutlet, an ode to the Piemonte cuisine, using the region’s Fassona veal fillet with a borrowed Milanese touch (in the breaded exterior of the meat). Another of his acclaimed dishes is the recreation of a mixed salad, called Check Salad in which he combines truffles, caviar, and herbs.
His creations made him famous worldwide - and beyond... So much so, he has developed a new type of Space Food for ESA (European Space Agency): he cooked up some classic recipes that were made spaceworthy by Turin-based company Argotec, including an aubergine parmigiana, mushroom, and pesto risotto and caponata, with tiramisu for dessert. The dishes were dehydrated by a unique process to preserve flavor before being stored in aluminum bags to withstand launch vibrations.
Obsessed with design and technology, Scabin often works in partnership with researchers at the University of Turin, and even teaches a class there on food design.