Shang­hai gets a mas­ter class in Ital­ian cui­sine

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai


Mas­simo Men­tasti was one of the lat­est top chefs to grace the culi­nary scene in Shang­hai, hav­ing spent two days in the city start­ing Dec 9. But un­like many of his in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts who have set up shops here to cap­i­tal­ize on the boom in the num­ber of wealthy in­di­vid­u­als, Men­tasti was just here to demon­strate to the lo­cal au­di­ence what “the true taste of Italy” is really about.

Ex­ec­u­tive chef of the ac­claimed La Gal­lina in north­ern Italy’s Gavi re­gion, Men­tasti in 2014 joined the ranks of the elite when the restau­rant was awarded the highly cov­eted Miche­lin Star. His cre­den­tials meant that the tick­ets to his ex­clu­sive nine-course din­ner in Shang­hai, which was priced at 588 yuan ($91), was sold out weeks ahead of the event.

Hosted at Ital­ian restau­rant Sale & Peppe, con­sid­ered to be the es­tab­lish­ment that pop­u­lar­ized wood-oven baked piz­zas in the city, the cozy event at­tracted a crowd of about 50 din­ers who got to wit­ness first­hand the Ital­ian mae­stro’s culi­nary prow­ess in pro­duc­ing dishes like bre­saola (air-cured beef), Cata­lan-style lob­ster and fried

Mas­simo Men­tasti, ri­cotta, which is find in Shang­hai.

The 31-year-old chef, who claims that he pos­sesses an “in­born pen­chant for risotto”, also wowed his guests with a refreshing take on the pop­u­lar Ital­ian dish by fo­cus­ing on the most in­nocu­ous yet most im­por­tant of

dif­fi­cult to in­gre­di­ents — the rice.

In­stead of us­ing cream, Men­tasti re­lied on a com­bi­na­tion of cheese, milk and fresh eggs to in­duce a dis­tinc­tive aroma in the dish, which was topped with a lightly seared piece of foie gras.

“There seems to be an over­dose of cream on rice and noo­dles at Ital­ian restau­rants in China and around the world,” said Men­tasti, whose fa­ther and grand­mother run a food busi­ness in his home­town of Varese in north­ern Italy. “The essence of Ital­ian tra­di­tional cui­sine lies in the orig­i­nal fla­vors of the raw ma­te­ri­als used, in­stead of us­ing much sauces and spices.”

Wu Jian, the owner of Sale & Peppe, con­ceded that many Ital­ian restau­rants in Shang­hai serve fare that is tweaked to suit the lo­cal palate. He also noted that one of the big­gest chal­lenges faced by Ital­ian restau­rants in Shang­hai is the lack of easy ac­cess to in­gre­di­ents, spices, and qual­ity dairy prod­ucts.

Wu, who had lived and worked in Ja­pan as a chef and a restau­rant man­ager for more than a decade, said that hand­made egg noo­dles, one of the nine cour­ses on the spe­cial menu, as well as the cream-free risotto with foie gras will soon be reg­u­lar dishes on the restau­rant’s menu.

The essence of Ital­ian tra­di­tional cui­sine lies in the orig­i­nal fla­vors of the raw ma­te­ri­als used, in­stead of us­ing much sauces and spices.”

ex­ec­u­tive chef of the La Gal­lina in north­ern Italy’s Gavi re­gion


Mas­simo Men­tasti's cream-free risotto will soon be avail­able at Sale & Peppe.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.