An internationally renowned chef, sommelier, Calabrian born in the town of Paola (Cs) and ambassador of the excellence of his homeland. Antonio Raffaele, immediately found the right atmosphere with “Calabria a Tavola” and enthusiastically shared his the basic values.
Unequivocally we’re talking about Antonio Raffaele, Best Chef of the Year in 2008, award-winner and admired for its extraordinary cuisine that combines the Mediterranean flavoursand international notes. Antonio Raffaelemanages the restaurant Artecraziaof the Arthotel& Park in Lecce, which a few years ago became his special observatory the world in a refined mode that he includes in all its creative dishes.
Do you born or do you become chef?
“In my case it becomes. Whilst in university I approached the kitchen due to necessity and for fun. I do recognise that I started late but the passion over time was transformed in absolutely. I believe that in this trade is essential to have a complete dedication and a lot of studies, but also it takes talent”.
Which cuisine do you consider to be your reference point?
“I had great teachers like Visscher, Mei, Tamaniand Hermé, butthe absolute model for the savoury kitchen is Gianfranco Visscher with acombination of genius and recklessness but like a Michelangelo of the kitchen. Whilst for the pastry cuisine definitely Hermé in Paris, without of course forgetting the great Italian masters such as Massari, Dalmasso and Manilia”.
Which are the skills a chef should have?
“First of all the character, it’s an indispensable quality that allows the chef to bring out his true personality most of all towards his team, the biggest mistake a chef could make is to only speak about himself. Let’s say that the chef is the mind but that gets in tune with all the staff to create great dishes”.
As a child what did you wanted to do when grown up?
“Until I was 23 I was studying law, but I remember when I was 5 my father returning from a fishing trip, I was playing with the fish still alive and with my younger brother imagined to have a restaurant”.
Do chefs have their own colour palette as painters do?
“I would say that the chef’s colour palette is like a Michelangelo’s palette. It’s not only very important to know well the raw ingredients but also to know how to combine the techniquesto give an absolute perfect dish”.
When creating a new dish which is the most difficult moment?
“You always start from the raw ingredients and theirquality, my thoughts always go towards an organic product such as those from Calabria where organic farming is as old as man”.
How much from Calabria do you put into your work? And what could the region offer to fine dining?
“The greatest expressions are the citrus fruits whose quality is not found in any other part of the world. I think of clementines, citron, bergamot and the lemons of RoccaImperiale IGP. However, we must not forget the extra virgin olive oil in particular from the oil producer San Giorgio di MimmoFazari, the rice from Sibari and the many other products traditional from Calabria which are too many to mention”.
Among your creations is there a particular dish that you love the most?
“Is a Calabrian dish prepared with the “ ‘ncantarata”(a traditional salted pork meat), a product that brings out and belongs to the tastes, smells and flavours of the past and now very difficult to find, I prepare it with potatoes and cabbage , is a dish of which I am in love”.
And what do you think of the rice from Sibari that you often use in your recipes?
“I consider it an institutional product and a source of pride not only for Calabria but for all the South of Italy. We think that this Carnaroli is the king of rice for risotto. In the plains of Sibariyou experience an incredible emotion within a unique atmosphere, an earthly paradise, where the rice fields are filled with fresh water from thePollinoNational Park and from the Ionian Sea to give that exceptional taste to the rice. In this production we not only find the Carnarolitype of rice, but also the Karnak”.
What’s Antonio Raffaele’s style?
My cuisine is Mediterranean with a touch of internationality.
For your career do you feel you have to thank anyone in particular?
“First of all my parents who supported me when I decided to leave University. Surely my wife and, abigthanks to Gianfranco Visscherthat it was “love at first sight”.
Antonio Raffaele has a dream?
“Continue on the road to raise awareness and understanding of all the love that I put in the preparation of my dishes, from wine to pastry. But also continue to give excitement and unique sensations through my food. Then to have my own restaurant in Calabria and put my region on the roof of the world through my creations”.