'I tried the poisonous fugu fish in Japan'

I tried the poisonous fugu fish in Japan

Talking food with Antonio Iacovelli, Head Chef, Trattoria Toscana

Published: Fri 23 Aug 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 23 Aug 2019, 2:00 AM

Your best food-related experience.
I have been lucky enough to visit El Celler de Can Roca, the renowned restaurant in Girona, Spain, run by the three Roca brothers, which has been twice ranked the #1 restaurant in the world. I had an amazing dinner there, a truly inspiring gastronomic experience, which helped shape me into the chef I am today.

Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
There are so many great chefs that I admire, so choosing only one is very hard. One of my favourites at the moment is Enrico Crippa. I admire him for his minimalist approach to cooking and his great respect for the products he uses.

Your favourite culinary destination, and why?
Other than Italy, Japan is, without a doubt, my favourite culinary destination. Osaka and Tokyo are such diverse cities and the food scene there is simply mind-blowing. It was here that I tried fugu fish for the first time, which is a poisonous fish and a risky Japanese delicacy.

How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
I have two days off per week and, on one of those, I always dine out with my wife. We try different places almost every time, but my favourite restaurants are The Noodle House, 3 Fils, Butcha Steakhouse and PF Chang's.

If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
I would love to cook for Richie Hawtin, who I believe is one of the greatest DJs today. Not only is he a musical genius, he is also a big lover of food. I would invite him to my restaurant and cook him a modern version of a beef fillet rossini, with juicy meat, foie gras and truffle - delicious.

You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
I would create a dessert using ingredients that are normally used in savoury dishes; for example, a dessert using eggplant, black garlic and coconut sugar. At the moment, the restaurant serves a dessert that looks like a tomato but is actually made out of strawberry mousse. I love dishes where the eyes perceive something, but it is, in fact, something completely different to what you see.

One ingredient/dish you can't stand, and why.
Boiled zucchini - not very versatile.

After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
No, I save cooking for when I am working in the restaurant. If I really need to make something for myself, the most I will do is a cafe latte with a biscuit on the side!

Favourite comfort food?
A proper plate of pasta or anything slow-cooked, like a juicy and tender beef or veal cheeks. I can't resist those, they always hit the spot.

If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
An amazing array of raw seafood with a lot of sea urchins.

Where can we find you, when not in the kitchen?
On the beach, relaxing and getting a tan, or in the gym, lifting weights and sweating like there is no tomorrow.  
- Staff reporter

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