Roman by birth but of Abruzzo origins, the dynamic and creative 40-year-old, Michelin-starred chef, Adriano Baldassarre, holds a rich career having worked with prestigious collaborations like Locatelli in London, Antonello Colonna at Labico and Heinz Beck. As the head of the legendary Tordo Matto in Zagarolo, he won the Michelin star in 2007 as one of the youngest chefs, and in 2016 he opened his own restaurant, ‘Tordomatto’ in the centre of Rome.
Adriano is back at The Lodhi Hotel in New Delhi, curating an all-new summer menu at the chic, fine dining Italian restaurant, Perbacco. The exclusive menu is focused on the best produce and lighter ingredients, and the new selection also features a wider choice of vegetarian dishes. Boasting a cornucopia of progressive preparations and classic renditions; Perbacco is known to offer an inventive approach to contemporary Italian dining infused with traditional flavours. Fresh ingredients and the season’s finest produce are celebrated, creating a beautiful mélange that is nutritious as well as robust.
I caught up with the celebrated chef, while savouring his imaginative culinary artistry. Here is an informal tete-a-tete we enjoyed while taking care of social distancing and rounding off our meal with cheese panna cotta, vanilla, citrus zest and red berries.
Who is your favourite chef, and why?
Humble chefs are my favourite. Greatness comes from humility, and one must always remember that.
Who has inspired you the most in your career as a chef?
Definitely mum and grandma.
What is your philosophy of cooking?
Less is more. Italian cuisine uses fresh ingredients, and the dishes stand out by focusing on the simplicity and freshness of these ingredients; there is no need to add more and more of them.
Do you largely belong to the old world of classics or more in a contemporary style of fusion cooking?
You need to know the classics to get into contemporary.
You have created a new menu here, please give highlights of the new menu.
Signature creations from the new menu include the ribollita Toscana soup, and antipasti like caprese and chicken fillet, sugo alla cacciatora with mustard seeds and romanesco’. Highlights from the pasta and risotto section feature whole wheat ravioli al’arrabbiata with parsley, grated mozzarella and lamb cappellacci, gremolata. The four seasons pizza, formato of vegetables with pesto and baba au rum with Chantilly cream and cherries are other specials on the menu.
What were the most important considerations for crafting a menu at The Lodhi?
Introduce more vegetarian options.
What has been your signature dish, something you identified within the culinary circle?
There are a few – mushroom, thyme, almond and black garlic; the way I cook the pasta without water; lamb, yogurt, cumin and Swiss chard.
Do you have a favourite cuisine?
Every cuisine respects the traditions and ingredients and continues to focus on that even if times change.
What is your favourite spice?
It’s hard to call any one spice a favourite since every spice has its own unique characteristics. But if I had to name one, then garam masala.
Ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
Even in the course of this pandemic, we have been continuing to follow our passion and will keep doing so in future, too.
For more information, visit thelodhi.com.