‘Salt Bae changed the way people sprinkle salt all over the world’
Talking food with Luigi Mercogliano, pizzeria head chef, Akiba Dori
Your best food-related experience.
My best food-related experience would be from back in my days in Japan. I was visiting the popular Tsukiji Fish Market to try this gem of a sushi shop called Sushi Dai. It was a two-hour long wait in a queue before I got to bite into the fresh sushi, but it was definitely worth it.
Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
The Turkish butcher Nusret Gökçe. He started from the bottom, washing dishes, and now Salt Bae has opened about 15 restaurants worldwide in just a few years. Besides that, he changed the way people sprinkle salt all over the world.
Your favourite culinary destination, and why?
I’d say my favourite culinary destination is, and always will be, my Grandma’s kitchen. It’s a destination to me, seeing as it’s so far away from where I live today and I don’t visit as often as I wish I could — so it’s often that I find myself dreaming about her dishes. In fact, I love her cooking so much, I also use her secret Ragu Sauce recipes in one of our pizza’s here at Akiba Dori.
How often do you eat out? What’s your favourite place around town?
To be honest, I don’t eat out much. During the week, I’m always working and, during my time off, I’m more a street food guy. I prefer to spend my time far away from restaurants at least one day a week.
If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
I’m a huge fan of football, so I’d love to reach out to my favourite team and whip up a private pizza party night for the team with our small catering woodfire oven.
You’re asked to invent an unusual dish — what would it be?
Well… Spaghetti with… Nutella topped with white chocolate.
One ingredient/dish you can’t stand, and why.
I’m not too big on Chinese food in general. There is no specific reason for that… I just don’t enjoy the combination of ingredients when it comes to Chinese food.
After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
Once a week, I cook pasta with seafood at home. I love to go to the Jumeirah fish market and, when I get there, I am immediately inspired to try different combinations.
Favourite comfort food?
My grandmother’s lasagna is out of this world and will always be my go-to comfort food.
If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
Once again, my grandma’s lasagna would win this.
Where can we find you, when not in the kitchen?
I love living an active lifestyle, so if I’m not in the kitchen, you’ll generally find me out for a run or at the gym.