It's a pleasure to share your culinary experience
Cooking with Chef Marco, Head Chef, La Cucina, Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah
Your best food-related experience.
It's hard to choose but it would have to be anytime my mum cooks for all the family. There really is nothing better than when the full family gathers around the dining table to enjoy traditional home cooking together. I take a lot of inspiration from my mother's recipes in my own food, particularly at the restaurant, where the menu is focused on rustic Italian cooking.
Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
Alain Ducasse for building an empire of restaurants around the world. He manages to maintain high quality standards at all times, respecting the ingredients and the faithful chefs.
What's your favourite culinary destination - and why?
Vietnam, because it's my wife's home country and I fell in love with the food on my first visit. Every time we go, the food is always so good - simple yet complex, a pure experience of flavours combining sour, sweet and spicy. Everything is fresh. When you go to the food markets, there are live fish and the fruits, vegetables and herbs are vividly green.
How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
As a chef, there isn't a lot of free time left in the day, so I try to eat out once a week. I like Reif for their authentic dishes and quality of ingredients.
If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve him or her?
Throughout my career, I have been lucky to serve a lot of VIPs, actors, singers and politicians. It's always a pleasure to share your culinary experience with someone famous but, to be honest, I treat all my customers the same and I love cooking for everyone.
You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
It would be a dish using a mix of flavours from Italy and Vietnam with a French touch. Like a lasagne but made with rice paper instead of pasta sheets, or something like that. I mainly get my inspiration from fresh, market-bought ingredients and when I'm cooking on the spot using my imagination.
One ingredient or dish you can't stand - and why.
Nothing. I like everything and I'm always excited to taste new ingredients, particularly when I travel - like crickets, scorpions or even snake!
After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
I don't spend much time cooking for myself. I open a can of tuna or eat fresh yoghurt with cereals - something very easy.
Favourite comfort food?
It has to be spicy instant noodles.
Where can we find you, when you're not in the kitchen?
I like to play a few games of pool or hang out in a lounge or sports club around Dubai - something very simple and relaxing.
- Staff reporter