When foodies in Kuala Lumpur talk these days, its always about “oh, I’m going to Il Lido for lunch, or I just came back from dinner at il Primo.. or I’m off to Lafite for my tête-à-tête”. Well Cumi & Ciki have decided to make it their mission to find out, what makes these wonderful ‘conjurors’ of great food (I think they call them ‘chefs’) tick.
Today’s Chef in the Spotlight is none other than Chef Samuele Alvisi who helms the kitchen as Executive Chef at il Lido, bringing with him more than twelve years of skills and knowledge from working in kitchens all over the world.
Here is his story..
What were your favorite foods growing up?
Tagliatelle Bolognese from my mother. Some people might be surprised, but my mother is not a cook at all. She rarely steps in the kitchen, so this is one dish that I look forward to growing up, and still reminiscent about today.
When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
When I was 12. My mother don’t cook, so my summer job back then was to cook for my mother at home (and in turn, I get my allowance). That was when I decided to start working in the kitchen full-time.
Where and when did your career in food begin?
I started working in the kitchen, as a commis, in a hotel in my hometown (a small town called Riolo Terme in Northen Italy). My career in culinary started then, since I was 15.
If you didn’t become a chef, what would you be?
I see myself in a profession that involves animals, so even if I don’t become a chef, I’ll be a vet or even a butcher.
Who/what has shaped your cooking the most over the years?
The countries I’ve worked in, I’ll say. After having travelled across the continents, from Europe to Asia, their respective dining cultures have given me a very well-rounded perspective into cooking, from food preparation, presentation and techniques. Every city and country has their own food culture and I’m very lucky to have been able to experience so much in the past 15 years.
What are your favorite culinary weapons in the kitchen?
Without a doubt, my set of knives. Every chef must have a good set of knives that he is comfortable with.
Don’t Be. I rarely miss:P
What influences your cooking style and particularly your menu?
My cooking style stems a lot from my hometown (Riolo Terme, near Bologna), but having worked across various regions of Italy, I have also picked up on each region’s distinct way of cooking. That said, our menu at ilLido has always been designed in partnership with Beppe (de Vito). And also because Beppe and myself come from two different regions, we have created a very classic menu of Italian traditional food.
What is your favorite secret ingredient and why?
It’s a secret! (kidding) For me, it would have to be the pig. We Italians love our pork. Almost every part of a pig can be used in cooking; there are the meats we can use for mains, or they can be used for broth to enhance the flavours of a dish.
What is the one rule or value you try to instill in all of your staff?
To suck it up. The kitchen is a tough environment, and if you want to learn and progress, you have to be able to endure and persevere.
If I’m trying to watch my weight and I’m eating at your restaurant, what am I ordering to eat?
Go for the crab salad with avocado and bisque jelly for appetizer. We also have some salads and soups, including the Rucola Salad with Pecorino Cheese, Walnuts and Pear. Some carbs are always good even if you’re on a diet, so try our pastas like Pumpkin Tortelli with Sage, Aged Balsamic Vinegar and Amaretti Crumbs.
If its my birthday and i am being super-indulgent and the sky’s the limit, what am I ordering to eat from your restaurant?
Everything! Our Sardinian Suckling Pig with Plum Sauce is a must, as is the Champagne Risotto with Truffle, Baked Rigatoni with Suckling Pig, Porcini Mushrooms and Truffle, and Grilled Duck Supreme with Goose Liver and Leg Confit Timbale. An easy way to order is to go for our degustation menu (at RM 180 ++) – it’s a collection of our recommended dishes from the menu.
What was the most challenging meal you had to make? Why?
To be honest, I really can’t think of one. There’s always at least one challenge that I have to face every day in the kitchen.
What was your worst restaurant disaster?
So far I’ve been quite lucky! I haven’t met with one that has given me a lasting impression.
What is your least favorite food?
Raw oysters. I have eaten bugs and all sorts of wild animals, but I absolutely dislike raw oysters.
What is your beverage of choice?
A really good cup of Espresso Italiano.
What are some recent dining and culinary trends you have been observing?
Diners are going back to the staples. Modern or fusion cuisine have taken a step back in recent years. Instead, traditional food and classics have received the spotlight.
When you are not eating at your own restaurant…where you are eating at?
The mamak stalls near my flat, simply because it’s good food guaranteed while at the same time easily accessible for me.
Which foreign country inspires your style most?
Japan. Their attention to details, passion for food and professionalism in cooking are very admirable.
What was the most spectacular meal you have ever had?
Very interestingly (/strangely), it’s a Thai restaurant in Mina A’Salam, Dubai. I remembered my meal there as an absolutely spectacular one – great view, superb food and good service – something that I always appreciate in a restaurant.
What do you eat when you are home?
A simple pasta with ragout or pesto, but I usually dine out in KL – because good foods are everywhere.
What’s a basic cooking technique that you couldn’t possibly live without?
Pan roasting. It’s easy and efficient, and once you get the skill right, you’re guaranteed a satisfactory dish every time.
You obviously rely a lot on your sense of smell. Why do you think that an educated sense of smell is important to developing a good dish?
The first thing that gets the appetite going is the aroma of a dish. We have to understand that in order to create dishes that our diners look forward to tasting.
Finally, what is your advice for all those new, up and coming Chefs out there?
Work hard and don’t cower. Only those who stick it out will make it to the top.
About Executive Chef Samuele Alvisi, ilLido
Native Italian Chef Samuele Alvisi helms the kitchen as Executive Chef at il Lido, bringing with him more than twelve years of skills and knowledge from various acclaimed restaurants and deluxe hotels across Milan, United Kingdom, Dubai, Beijing and Singapore. Chef Samuele celebrates the heritage of Italian cuisine with a refreshing culinary point of view, serving classic regional specialties such as Breaded Veal Chop with Marinated Tomatoes, Roasted Suckling Pig with Plum Sauce and Red Snapper Fillet with Braised Fennel, Vanilla and ‘Taggiasche’ Olives. All photos from il Lido.
Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2161 2291 Google Maps