Italian Cuisine is Globally Recognised for its Rustic Flavours: Chef Marouane Rahali, Italian Chef, Alto Vino, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield
Chef Rahali shared a sneak peek into - how his childhood passion for cooking paved his way into the culinary world.
ITALIAN CUISINE, predominantly recognised globally for its antiquity and simplicity, has been widely celebrated and savoured across the world at large and throughout the length and breadth of India in particular.
To cater to their diverse traveller audience, both international and domestic, seeking authentic Italian delicacies, Fratelli Fresh – the Italian Restaurant at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, Powai, has recently launched their all-new authentic Italian menu. The menu comprises of delicacies specially curated by Chef Marouane Rahali, Italian Chef, Alto Vino, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield.
The authentic Italian dishes that will be served under the new menu will include Pollo Al Balsamico, Vellutata Di Pollo E Funghi, Gnocchheti Di Semola, Carbonara, among the other scrumptious delicacies. The dishes are also customisable according to the diner’s own likings.
Commencing his career in the culinary field in 2003, Chef Rahali’s first stint was with the Antica Locanda Postporta, a restaurant in the Gallarate, Italy where he joined as a trainee. Down the timeline, he served as the Sous Italian Chef at Grand Hyatt, Muscat in 2011, before joining Alto Vino in Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield. Chef Rahali shared a sneak peek into - how his childhood passion for cooking paved his way into the culinary world. Excerpts:
Throw some light on the Italian cuisine and its age-old antiquity that people across the world are so fond of.
Chef Rahali: Italian Cuisine which dates back to several centuries, is popular for its rustic flavours and simplicity of the ingredients. The delicacies only use about two to four main ingredients. People appreciate the simplicity of the dishes as they can relish almost every ingredient that has been used into the food. Italian Cuisine, however, takes prolonged processing time during the preparation of the food, which is a task to be met by the chefs. For Example – The Italian-Style Lamb Shanks recipe needs the Lamb Shanks to be marinated overnight and then slow-cooked during the morning.
During your previous assignments, what were the challenges and opportunities that you faced to serve the varied guest profile in different countries?
Chef Rahali: As I was always fond of cooking right since my childhood, and my mother being my mentor to introduce and teach me about Italian cuisine, it was not really much of a challenge when at Gallarate, but I soon started tasting it as I moved to Muscat where I was given charge of handling a team of 20+ Chefs. The challenge mainly included training the team about Italian flavours, but it escalated when communication added as a barrier. One of my colleagues, a fellow chef hailing from Indonesia then told me, ‘Either you make them understand your instructions in English, or learn Arabic.’ His words really helped and thereafter learning Arabic gradually, the challenges did start falling apart.
Being the Head Chef at Alto Vino in Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, what are the new prospects that you bring along, with over a decade of experience of making Italian delicacies?
Chef Rahali: According to me, every Chef has their own vision to serve and curate the menu. Our menu at Alto Vino, even though based on the traditional Italian cuisine, we are keeping it quite young. Our main focus is the healthy element delivered to our patrons in our dishes. Heading a team of six chefs at Alto Vino – the Parmigiana, Ravioli, Salmone and black rice-based Risottos are highly appreciated by the diners.
Coming to the trends, we follow the European trend of keep importing the ingredients according to their seasonal cycle. Asparagus is not an all-season ingredient, likewise, there are many more. We import most of the seasonal ingredients right from Italy to serve the flavours that our patron are fond of.
Which is your favourite ingredient that you like using the most in the range of dishes?
Chef Rahali: I really like using and creating dishes from all the ingredients based on their availability during a particular season. According to me, if the ingredients are fresh and of that season, one does not need to put in all the bells and whistles to make flavoursome dishes.
What are the wines & spirits you would suggest that pair best with traditional Italian Cuisine?
Chef Rahali: At Alto Vino as well as Fratelli Fresh, both the restaurants have a rich stock of 120 plus labels of wines individually, that are from various countries including Italy, France, South Africa. Also, the wine pairing is something that varies from person to person. Someone would like their Salmone with Red Wine due to its acidity that complements its flavours.
Brief us about the visitor ratio of both international and local diners at Alto Vino. Also, how do you cater to the Indian diners who demand Indian spices-fused Italian dishes? How do you try to educate them about authentic Italian Cuisine?
Chef Rahali: Interestingly, at Alto Vino, we receive 50:50 of International and Local diners. Food is something that makes one happy, so we do consider customising certain dishes, like making the Chicken Parmigiana which is an Italian-American dish, etc. The Restaurant is open only during the evening hours and we averagely receive 40-50 covers daily. However, the range keeps fluctuating and is dependent on the festive season and several other factors.
I always talk to my patrons about the beautiful Italian Cuisine and also the ideal time to visit Italy i.e. autumn as one can spot many towns hosting the sagra (food festival) to savour on Italy’s chestnuts, mushrooms, sauces, etc., during that time of the year. However, I let them rest assured that they really do not need to issue a Visa to go visit Italy while they can experience the gastronomic tourism at Alto Vino.
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