The Italian with the Benelux uniform

Andrea Miacola will compete in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef: he works in The Netherlands, after Cracco, Alajmo and...

11-08-2016

Andrea Miacola won the Benelux finals for the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. The Italian young man, born in 1987, tells his story in this article for Identità Golose

The name of the Benelux finalist at the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 is Andrea Miacola, 29. He’s Italian and works at De Librije, in The Netherlands. We asked him to tell his story to Identità Golose (Carlo Passera).

My great passion in life is cooking: I try to convey my emotions in the dishes I invent and create, always starting from my experience. I completed my first cycle of studies at the Enrico Mattei catering school in Vieste, and then I perfected my knowledge of Italian cuisine by attending Guartiero Marchesi’s international school Alma in Colorno. I’m always looking for new flavours: spices and aromas that can stimulate me and make me grow in my profession and as a person. I like pairing tradition with innovation. Indeed, I’ve learnt the most important cooking rules at my grandmother’s home: even these days, when I face some difficulties or I’m under pressure, I think of her advice. My first training experience was at restaurant Del Cambio in Torino then with great starred chefs such as Carlo Cracco in Milan or Massimiliano Alajmo in Padua, at Le Calandre. Every chef with whom I’ve worked contributed in my growth and gave me emotions that can by found in the key-ingredient I then use in my dishes. I think about Cracco for his vision of a refined cuisine, or about Alajmo for the vaporised aromas...

Carmagnola grey rabbit in tom kha flavour, tulips and Vesuvian tomato boullion: this is the dish thanks to which Miacola won the Benelux finals at the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. He will thus participate in the finals in Milan, on 13th-14th October

Carmagnola grey rabbit in tom kha flavour, tulips and Vesuvian tomato boullion: this is the dish thanks to which Miacola won the Benelux finals at the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. He will thus participate in the finals in Milan, on 13th-14th October

After spending a few years in Venice I decided to take a leap abroad. The urge was my desire to learn and explore... a bit like Marco Polo when he discovered new scents in China! Every workplace is a step in my life that has trained me in my profession: I always put myself on the line and take inspiration from the advice I get. Listening is the best way to grow and get new ideas. In Portugal at restaurant Villa Joya with chef Dieter Koshina I discovered local dishes that are very similar to Italian tradition in terms of look, yet they are completely different; I’ve even come across some bizarre products, such as percebes, pile chayote and annona. It is the very latter fruit that inspired the dish I prepared at the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, the Fresh anona, white coffee ice cream, coconut and Schmand dessert.

The next step was the arrival in The Netherlands and my experience in Zwolle at restaurant De Librije with chef Jonnie Boer. I found a different country and way of living, full of all sorts of stimuli. Full of enthusiasm, I embraced the culture, tastes and habits like a child in front of a playground.

Thanks to chef Boer and his cuisine I discovered fermented products, the use of tulips in cooking, the Big Green Egg [a ceramic barbecue]... I observed his collection of spices, the use of aromatic herbs and vegetables he cultivates himself, the pairing of crustaceans and meat. These dishes are very technical and complex on the palate. In The Netherlands I met lovely and very helpful people.

Miacola will compete with 19 other young participants from all around the world. Just like Alessandro Salvatore Rapisarda, the Italian standard bearer here depicted together with the prestigious jury that proclaimed his success in the Italian finals. The two will not be the only Italians: there will also be Matteo Zonarelli, chef de partie at 8 1/2 Bombana in Macao, who won the North-East Asia finals

Miacola will compete with 19 other young participants from all around the world. Just like Alessandro Salvatore Rapisarda, the Italian standard bearer here depicted together with the prestigious jury that proclaimed his success in the Italian finals. The two will not be the only Italians: there will also be Matteo Zonarelli, chef de partie at 8 1/2 Bombana in Macao, who won the North-East Asia finals

At the same time as my experience at De Librije, came the idea of presenting the dish with which I took part in the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 semi-finals for Benelux, in Antwerp. My Carmagnola grey rabbit in tom kha flavour, tulips and Vesuvian tomato boullion was born from the desire to enhance two Italian Slow Food products such as Carmagnola grey rabbit and Vesuvian tomato. I gave them a Thai take, with galanga, kaffir lime, turmeric, coconut and coriander, chosen to match an earthy sapidity (given by the rabbit) with a watery one, given by the marinated oysters. Then spicy berries, patanegra Joselito, seaweed tempura, marinated shiso, peanuts with Thai green curry: this garnishing gives the dish extra texture, sweetness, sapidity and spiciness. Tulips are the crunchy and preserved element that best represent me and my experience in The Netherlands.

Being in the finals at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 in Milan on 13th and 14th October makes me very proud because I wouldn’t have bet a cent on it! But perhaps I should start believing in myself more, and win my shyness. I see my life as a mix of spices, an explosion of the emotions given by the people around me, by experiences and adventures. If I could chose a dish that best represents me, I’d say simply some bread with some tomato scraped on top. Because deliciousness, simplicity and tradition are a perfect match that make me feel at home wherever I may be.


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