UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
Maurizio developed an unrivalled passion for the culinary world after spending most of his lifetime in the kitchen. From his parents’ restaurant in Italy, to impressive dining destinations in Monte Carlo and China, before making the move to Indonesia, whe
If you love the kitchen game, then meet some of the most valuable players. We sit down with Hajime Kasuga from Henshin, Maurizio Bombini from Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Angelo Ciccone from Regent Singapore, A Four Seasons Hotel.
: How did you first develop a passion for the culinary industry?
Maurizio: My parents used to run a restaurant, my father was a chef and my mother was a restaurant manager. I was born into the industry, it's a big part of my life. A week after I was born, my mother put me in a stroller and went back to the restaurant. I used to spend all my day in the restaurant, helping my father in the kitchen. When I was about 8 years old, I used to go shopping with my father to the market for the restaurant. He would teach me which products to pick. When I was about 12 years old, I started to look at my father as a role model, someone I aspired to be. Passion for food is in our blood, since I was a kid my parents taught me to eat well. I was practically born into the industry, the kitchen for me was my home, my playground, my family and my friends. So every time I go to work now, it feels like going to my family.
: Where do you draw inspiration to create your dishes?
M: It changes over time. For the first two years when I was in Bulgari, I was more modern, by trying to give a modern, fancy touch. Then I realised that tradition is important in the kitchen, so I started sticking to the basics of traditional cuisine, but still giving a modern touch. Inspiration usually comes from my past, I'm from southern Italy, so I get inspired a lot by the southern Italian bay cuisine. The last few years since I've
been in Mandapa, I've also got to experience Asian cuisine a lot. I started to get involved in creating the Indonesian menu in Sawah restaurant, and I really enjoyed it because it was totally different for me.
: Can you describe your cooking style? M: I take inspiration from basic recipes
– an authentic touch is still mandatory for me – and change the methods, but the real flavours still have to be there. I don't like to mix too many ingredients, I usually stick to four to five ingredients. I'm traditional, but presentation-wise I always try to do something modern. When guests comment that they can taste each ingredient on the plate, that's what's important for me. No need to put raspberries just to give colour, you know? If the colour is dark, it's dark. What's important is that the dish tastes good. Things on the plate need to have a connection to one another, otherwise it doesn't make any sense.
: Can you share the most memorable moments in your career?
M: First was when I was in my father's restaurant, because it was my first step in the culinary world. Second was when I was in Monte Carlo, because I learned a lot about French cuisine, the basics, the discipline and the different kinds of techniques. The third moment was when I came to Bali. My stint at Bulgari was the first time in my career when I had the freedom to express myself in the kitchen.
: Do you still have future goals in your career that you would like to achieve?
M: I never thought about it too much, I didn't think about wanting to be the executive chef at a five-star hotel, or wanting this or that. For me the most important thing is my passion. As long as I can do what I love, I'm happy to go anywhere.
That's what I'm doing now, I'm happy here because I can follow my passion.
: What was the most challenging moment in your career?
M: The first time when I moved to Asia, I worked in China and it was a big challenge. The communication was very hard, and the way people there see Italian cuisine – it was totally different from what I was used to do.
Black cod, roasted onion, hazelnut, smoked mushroom consomm