Saturday, 17 January 2009

10 minutes with Chef Maurizio Bussolino

Our new feature is all about getting the steaming hot inside info from Italian kitchens all over the world and the lowdown from all the destinations we feature on our Italian Cooking Holidays.
This weeks '10 Minutes With...' comes from Maurizio Bussolino a chef working at the famous Ristorante Volare in Nashville Tenessee. Orignially from Asti, North Western Italy, which is known around the world for it's truffles. He credits his beloved mother for his knowledge of wine, as she worked in a castle, producing wine for over a decade.

1.If you could choose a cooking holiday from Flavours in either Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia or Bologna which one would you choose and why?
Well that would have to be Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region...the land of Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma...Still I my roots are deep into my beloved Piemonte...Alba who has better Truffles?

2.Who would be your ideal cooking companion on a cooking holiday in Italy?
My Son Paolo who is he grew up here in the U.S. on Turkey and Mashed potatoes...he will have a bit of a culture shock...I grew up on Grand Ma Gemma’s home-raised rabbits and her handmade Agnolotti. Paolo loves to make a mess in the kitchen and cutting gnocchi has become his responsibility now.

3.What is your essential Italian cooking ingredient?
I love rosemary…it goes almost with any food…a good wine is also a must as an ingredient and an Italian chef’s companion. Barbera as a Red to cook with and Arneis as a white. Fontanafredda is a wine maker from my area in Italy and can be found here in Nashville, Tennessee.

4.I couldn’t cook without my…?
I have a special set of knives at home that my dad bought for me when I got my first Diploma in 1987. I take very good care of them and always will. They represent the official beginning of my culinary career.

5.What do you do when you’re not in the kitchen?
Sipping some of my homemade Limoncello and dream up ideas about what I can cook at home that is completely different from what I prepare at work. I read a lot of food publications to make sure I am ahead of the trends, if they are good trends, and my fromager girlfriend Sara and I brainstorm about food and traveling to wonderful places that are defined by food, like where I grew up in Italy.

6.What’s the best thing about Italy?
Some people say we are hospitable and good hearted (I think so!) I love the small differences among the small towns even if 5 miles apart, different recipes, the wines that are considerably different from hill to hill. There is also that deep sense of pride built-in with us Italians that is rooted to our families and our traditions.

7.Have you had any cooking disasters?
Oh yes…when I was much younger and not so experienced working in a restaurant in Alba, Italy, I burned a whole second batch of polenta for a big wedding. This meant we ran out in the middle of serving. The event was fine but the owner of the restaurant had to put out some big fires. There may have been a few others, but as most Italians do, I celebrate the successes.

8.What is your favourite Italian recipe?
I really love our Veal Filet we serve in Ristorante Volare…I never turn down a nice bowl of Gnocchi either…this is the recipe for the Gnocchi.

5 med size Idaho potatoes

3 egg yolks

1 tbs Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

3/4 cup all purpose flour

salt a/n

1 Tsp olive oil

extra flour to keep handy for process

1.Boil the potatoes (wash well first) skin on, in lightly salted water until well done, peel them still hot then squeeze them through a potato ricer.

2.Let cool then form a crown. Add eggs, Parmigiano olive oil and salt in the middle and the flour around the outside of the crown.

3.Mix with hands as quickly as possible starting from center and incorporating eggs to potatoes and flour, forming a soft dough. Add more flour as needed to absorb moisture.

4.Cut dough In 7-8 smaller parts then roll them with your hands in ½ diameter rolls then cut about ¾ inch long ,keeping them dusted lightly with some extra flour. Real gnocchi need to be rolled individually with your thumb on a grooved surface or on the inside of a fork to give the original shape and form a small hole on the center to hold more sauce.

5.Boil in salty water until they float then toss in your favorite sauce… mine is a just a splash of heavy cream, gorgonzola and Parmigiano

9.What’s your top tip for the perfect Italian meal?
Make sure to have the right ingredients, from a good, homemade pasta to a fresh filet of fish. Fresh is the most important part, forget some of the staples that some think are Italian dining like Chicken Parmigiana or Alfredo…Look for a Ma and Pa restaurant where you can try something original, or come to Ristorante Volare and try my daily features!

10.Where can we find out more?

The resort that is home to my restaurant has a website, where you can find out all about the restaurant and my career

Flavours of Italy offer short breaks in Bologna departing from all over the UK and direct departures are now available from the USA. Our Italian cooking holidays in Bologna are a great chance to experience the magic of the region referred to as 'la grassa' or 'the fat' due to the seriously good living of the local people!


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