Q: Antonello, where did your passion for cooking come from?
A: Well, I certainly had no passion for school. By the end of eighth grade I had no desire to study, and so I joined the Istituto Alberghiero hospitality school. As soon as I walked into the kitchen I loved it and I knew that it would become my life. So one step at a time, starting as a commis, I became a chef. It took 15 years of patient, meticulous work, including a lot of discipline and a lot of research.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy in the kitchen?
A: I would say simplicity – that is the key to the Italian tradition. Being simple and original is my ideal cooking style. It’s about the traditions of my island, Sardinia, and the dishes that we ate every day as I was growing up.
Q: What are the signature dishes that you serve at your restaurant?
A: Of course I love Italian food, because it always surprises, it’s healthy and it respects and makes the most of the very best ingredients. So, we offer our guests the great summer classics – pastas, risottos, plenty of fish, lots of vegetables and lots of freshness. Then, of course, there’s the International cuisine. My menu always has two timeless dishes such as Chateaubriand with demi-glace of summer truffles or seared foie gras with seasonal fruits such as strawberries, figs, apricots and paired with toasted brioche with raisins.
Q: But is it possible to eat well and eat healthily – to enjoy great cuisine and still look good on the beach and by the pool?
A: Sure you can. Our Mediterranean cuisine is ideal for this. In my recipes, I never use saturated fats, but almost exclusively extra virgin olive oil. Sauces are always served on the side, so that each guest can choose whether or not to add them. And then, fundamental to wellbeing is salt. Never use too much, because on the one hand it hides the taste of food and the other it’s harmful to your health. Finally, cooking at low temperature is the perfect way to preserve the fresh flavours of each ingredient.
Q: Did you ever expect to be awarded the Michelin star?
A: A Michelin star is the dream of every chef. In recent years, thanks to the support that I’ve had from Forte Village, I’ve been able to grow, travel around and hone my style. As far as I’m concerned the star is a reward for us all. It was a wonderful surprise.
Q: What was the ceremony like where you found out you had won the star?
A: I was invited to a conference in Milan, organised by Michelin, and some of us were called into a room. There the new stars were announced and I was one of them! It’s a great honour and has motivated me to continue with the same dedication and passion.