I’ll start this post with a confession. When I had planned to meet Chef Alfonso Montefusco, Head Chef of Alto Vino, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, my intention was to learn more about Italian cuisine and look at interesting concepts for a recipe feature in the blog. In fact, for the interaction, I had prepared a detailed questionnaire for him revolving around pasta, tips to make the perfect dough, how to dish out the controversial egg yolk ravioli, and so on. But the moment I saw him at his restaurant, walking up to greet me, pasta suddenly seemed like a boring topic to hover around with such a dashing chef. And as we started our conversation, he in his sweet Italian accent and me lovestruck by his charm, pasta took a back seat while we discussed everything else under the sun.
Chef Montefusco hails from Naples, Italy, and comes with much experience in the culinary field. But food wasn’t an interest in his younger years. What started as a business, along its way made Chef Montefusco discover his passion for it. “What I love about food is the thrill that it brings along with it. I love to witness that expression on a person’s face when you present him or her with a delicious dish. It’s priceless. It motivates me to explore interesting concepts and flavours to ultimately wow my audience,” says Chef Montefusco.
At Alto Vino, his food is traditional with home-style cooking. He likes to bring out the flavours of local seasonal produce which he feels lends more character to a dish. His colleagues claim that he is a strict chef. Everyday, he personally picks each vegetable that goes into his kitchen. “To present your diners a delicious meal, you have to be particular in terms of the ingredients,” he explains. “I like to be a part of the entire process to ensure that we have the best produce on board.” And he is quite happy with what his suppliers provide including the cuts of beef, “they make a nice, juicy steak,” he assures.
Some of the signature dishes served at the restaurant include Egg Yolk Raviolo, Trenette all’Orto, Spigola, Fritto Misto, and Risotto ai Funghi.
On learning that I fancy Tiramisu, Chef made me try his version which was delicious. Creamy and not too sweet, just the way I like it. The restaurant also serves the much talked about Limón Cello, an Italian lemon liqueur amongst other beverages.
On asking Chef about his favourite dish, he questions, “Me?” Then he smiles and says, “homemade pasta (made of eggs and spinach puree), preferably tagliatelle, in light tomato sauce and fish roulade.”
Now having lived in India for a few months, he enjoys Indian cuisine too though he fails to understand the use of excessive spices in the dishes. “Tell me,” he says with concern, “why do you use so much chilli in your food? Of what I understand, a dish can be made delicious by enhancing the flavours of the ingredients and not overpowering them with chillies. When you have your curries what other taste do you get?” Well, I tried to give him several explanations as to why, somehow I couldn’t find the logic either even though I come from where the world’s hottest chillies are found! “Ah, I’ll just have to get used to it,” he concludes.
Incase you are wondering, did we actually get to taking about pasta at all? Well, stay tuned! Coming up is an interesting recipe in our next post.