Friday - - Food -

What do you have on your plate in terms of TV shows, books and ca­reer? I am very busy work­ing on recipe ideas, es­pe­cially with Mother’s Day and Easter com­ing up – a busy time for me. I’ll be do­ing more events in the UK, and I’m work­ing with a great char­ity, Cen­tre­point, that sup­ports young peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced home­less­ness to get into work. They are open­ing a char­ity café in Lon­don’s Soho and I’m help­ing with some of the train­ing. What will you be cook­ing at Taste of Dubai, and why did you choose those dishes? I’ll be mak­ing fresh pasta from scratch us­ing cut­tle­fish ink and I’ll be bring­ing along some of my own truf­fles. For the cook-along I will be mak­ing risotto – these are both clas­sic and de­li­cious Ital­ian dishes. What dis­tin­guishes a great restau­rant from a sim­ply good one? A great restau­rant is one that takes all the best things and moves it up a notch – so the very best in­gre­di­ents, pre­sen­ta­tion, ser­vice, lo­ca­tion, am­bi­ence – all these things done bril­liantly are what dis­tin­guishes a great restau­rant from a good one. What’s your ad­vice to any­one who wants to start a restau­rant? Be pre­pared to work hard, it’s a tough in­dus­try and you should have a good un­der­stand­ing of all as­pects of what makes a great restau­rant – from cook­ing, to sourc­ing the best in­gre­di­ents, ser­vice stan­dards – and all the back-of-house el­e­ments too, from train­ing and health and safety to profit and loss and pro­cure­ment. You need to know it all. I read some­thing to­day that said Ital­ians taste their own cui­sine dif­fer­ently than the rest of the world does. Would you agree with this state­ment? I am not sure if I agree as I don’t know what it

is like to be a dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­ity; how­ever I do know that we Ital­ians are in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate about food and, im­por­tantly, we un­der­stand prove­nance and qual­ity – even our school meals are made from scratch. So from a very young age we are brought up to re­spect food and it is very cen­tral to fam­ily life. What makes Ital­ian food special, es­pe­cially when we have so much choice nowa­days? I think it is so special be­cause you re­ally get a taste of coun­try when you eat it – fresh toma­toes, olive oil, Parme­san. The cook­ing is al­ways sea­sonal and lo­cal – so what you eat in one area of the coun­try you may not eat in an­other and we have a huge num­ber of DOC [pro­tected ori­gin] prod­ucts, which can­not be repli­cated any­where else. How do you ap­proach mak­ing Ital­ian dishes ‘light’? How do you stay healthy while work­ing in the restau­rant in­dus­try? It’s not that hard to make Ital­ian dishes light, es­pe­cially if you fol­low the Mediter­ranean diet, which, with its bal­ance of oils, fish and veg­eta­bles, of­fers a healthy way to en­joy Ital­ian food. The most im­por­tant things that I have learned about stay­ing healthy are: only eat when you are hun­gry; re­mem­ber to keep it small, light and of­ten (five small meals a day); eat oily fish three times a week; try not to eat fruit af­ter your evening meal (it stops the di­ges­tive sys­tem work­ing prop­erly); don’t eat late at night. Have a light evening meal, then go to bed two or three hours later. I prom­ise, you’ll sleep bet­ter, and will wake prop­erly re-en­er­gised.

Aldo Zilli will be cook­ing at the Chef’s Theatre at 6.30pm on March 9, 1.30pm on March 10 and 6.30pm on March 11 and at the cook­ing chal­lenge tent on March 9 at 7.30pm, at 2.30pm on March 10 and at 5.30pm on March 11. Tick­ets are on sale at plat­inum­list.net, start­ing at Dh75 (Dh150 for Thurs­day).

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