What I share with Chef Antonio Bitetto, except for a deep and long lasting friendship, is our firm belief that eating well doesn’t mean sacrificing a passion for food. I admire his ability to communicate the values of Italian cuisine, to introduce new ideas yet remaining faithful to our tradition and, above all, to convey emotions through food. This evening, while sitting in front of the sea of our beloved Puglia and sipping a glass of good wine, I ask him about his secret recipes, professional experiences and travel adventures.
When did your passion for cooking begin?
My passion started with eating: food has been filling me with many emotions since my childhood. My feelings were fueled by all the ingredients that my family gradually exposed me to- the same ingredients I propose today in their special simplicity. A few years later I have become an interpreter of Italian and Apulian gastronomy abroad.
How did you understand that your passion would become your job?
At the beginning it was just a game. Then studying and a strong passion turned it into a job. My career started with my degree certificate at the prestigious ALMA cooking school where I internalized the culture and philosophy of Italian cuisine. I have worked in Italy, Europe and around the world in really different, luxurious restaurants, hotels and cruises. Now I'm Chef de Cuisine at Certo Restaurant, a renowned Italian restaurant in the heart of Dubai. My job is a way of living for me. It has allowed me to become the man I am today.
What does a chef have to say about eating healthy?
Eating healthy means respecting my body. I grew up eating genuine ingredients. The tradition must continue to be a valuable guide to healthy eating.
Is it possible to prepare a luxurious gourmet dinner that is also healthy?
Absolutely yes! The search for tasty dishes that are also nutritionally balanced is steadily growing. International customers are increasingly aware of the importance of nourishing themselves in a healthy way. That's why you need to carefully study the menu in collaboration with specialized professionals that take into consideration the nutritional factors and the preferences of their customers. The gourmet experience involves the succession of flavors, consistencies, ingredients and emotions that reflect the Chef's philosophy. You as a nutritionist in the kitchen help me not to overdo it with calories and fat.
You've traveled so much. Where do you think you can eat the best food?
The magic and history of a place can be understood through the cuisine it offers. Spain has impressed me with the avant-garde in preparing street food and tapas. North America has amazed me with its deep respect for the crustaceans and the ocean. Thailand has fascinated me with its exotic ingredients and flavors. The podium, however, undoubtedly belongs to Puglia and Bari, where you eat so well that your life is all about food!
You invite a woman to a romantic dinner. What do you prepare?
Something that best expresses my emotions and also makes a great impression on her. I'm confident that my "Linguine with sweet tomatoes, burrata and basil" has always been a great success.