NI­COLA MELILLO

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Magazine - - Turkey With A Twist -

I was born in a lit­tle town in southern Italy called Rutigliano, but Bar­ba­dos has my heart. I moved there in 2005, met my wife Danielle two and a half years later, and lived there for ten years on and off, un­til I came to work at Ja­maican restau­rant Rudie’s in Dal­ston. At first I thought I’d miss hav­ing a cold Christ­mas. But then I went swim­ming on my first Christ­mas morn­ing in Bar­ba­dos, came out of the wa­ter and called my par­ents, say­ing, ‘Hey, I’m sweat­ing.’ I guess I learned to ap­pre­ci­ate it. We don’t do tur­key at home in Italy, so I had my first one in Bar­ba­dos, when I had Christ­mas lunch with a Bri­tish fam­ily I knew. We had big roast pota­toes, turnips, car­rots — a typ­i­cal Bri­tish Christ­mas. At Danielle’s par­ents’ house the next year it was a dif­fer­ent story: we all tucked into a big buf­fet with sweet potato pie, pineap­ple and cherry baked chicken, coleslaw and steamed veg­eta­bles. Ital­ian food con­cen­trates on a sole in­gre­di­ent of the high­est qual­ity and does very lit­tle with it. Caribbean food is to­tally dif­fer­ent. For jerk, the meat may not be the best cut, but the long process of mar­i­nat­ing in spices and then smok­ing it makes it taste amaz­ing. It’s so soul­ful.

Melillo ( left) with sous chef in train­ing Mark Sil­burn

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