'Nothing adds more flavour to a dish than love'


Nothing adds more flavour to a dish than love

Tête-à-tête with Leonardo Passone, Head Chef, Bocca, Hilton Abu Dhabi

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Published: Fri 11 Aug 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 11 Aug 2017, 2:00 AM

Your favourite memory of food.
My fondest memories of cooking are that of the festive season, when my Nonna and I would prepare fresh tagliatelle pasta or fresh gnocchi for the family, usually accompanied with a flavourful meat sauce, and lamb ragout, beef ragout or her delicious lasagne.

What's the most challenging part of your job?
To 'keep it simple'. Very often, as chefs, we get carried away with an idea which may be great on paper, but may not necessarily translate as well on a plate. It's important to remember not to complicate the flavours and ingredients. Sometimes, simple ingredients create magic and the beauty of a dish often lies in its simplicity.

Do you have a personal mantra or motto that drives the way you cook food?
My cooking mantra is simple: cook from the heart! Nothing adds more flavour to a dish than love.

What would you say to your culinary peers around the world?
Chefs, I believe, are great contributors to society. Nothing is more satisfying than nourishing the heart and soul of people through food. It is an impressive feat to use your knowledge of various ingredients - and to be able to use them in the right way. I think it would also really help for us chefs to keep in mind the sustainability of local farms and the availability of fresh produce when we design a menu or think up a dish.

If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
I am curious about what dinner would be like with Mick Jagger, especially if I were to serve him our signature Bocca tiramisu. He has said that it's his preferred Italian dessert, and I think the one I make in our restaurant is one of the best you can find. It would be interesting to find out if he agrees!

How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
Honestly, I don't get out much. I like cooking for myself and my loved ones, but I do enjoy eating at Vasco's. I really enjoy the seafood cataplana there.

After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
All the time. Cooking is what drives me. I feel I'm at my creative best when I am in the kitchen - whether that's at home or at work.

You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
I'd love to try and use camel meat as a main course. We currently use camel milk at the hotel, but I've yet to try cooking with camel meat. I hear that it has a unique flavour, so it will be an interesting challenge for me to combine its flavour with the traditional tastes of Italy.  

Favourite comfort food?
A slice of margherita pizza.

One ingredient/ dish you can't stand, and why.
Durian fruit, because of its strong smell.

Your favourite culinary destination, and why?
Italy, for sure. It's where I'm from and where my heart belongs. I want to combine all my culinary experiences and knowledge to create amazing dishes with local ingredients available there.

If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
Rabbit casserole with herbs. It was one of my grandma's best dishes. Ever since she passed away, I have tried to replicate her recipe during my visits home, but it doesn't come out the same. I really miss it.
- Staff reporter

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