Raising a Glass to Many Flavours
Spices, olive oil and some love
Chef Elli Mauro who hails from the Milano in South Italy ticked off his first visit to India. Taking inspiration from his mother who he claims is a marvellous cook, he started his journey in the food business in the year 1982. “My mother transferred the passion of cooking to me and I started off as a young culinary,” he shares.
Though it has only been two days that he arrived in the city, the chef has already picked up his favourites from the Indian cuisine. “I am very impressed with Indian food. I love the spice as we in South Italy have spicy food. I love the naan it is very similar to some of the breads we make. I love the Indian flavours, especially ginger and some spices,” he says. And when he is cooking he ensures that Italian culture is exhibited through his creations.
Ask him how he manages to do that and he responds, “Every cuisine tries to portray its region’s culture through food. I believe in creating an emotion along with the food I make. I concentrate on the flavour. Fresh and season’s best offerings inspire me from my region to spread this delectable cuisine. I connect culture of every region with food and feel they two are inseparable,” he shares. And the culture that awaits Hyderabadis also has a lot of interesting elements. “The virgin olive oil made in South Italy is different from the one made in any other part of Italy. Due to the sun’s heat it is very hot and strong/intense as oil. Fresh tomatoes, eggplant, sardines, anchovies and pork with Southern Italian virgin olive oil are key ingredients. The cuisine is high on flavour, little spicy and has evident use of virgin olive oil which is prepared in South Italy,” he informs. And he is going to bring in a lot of love from Italy into the dishes. “Along with some fresh vegetables, a lot of flavour, the right balance of fat and authentic taste,” he adds. A foodie himself, he has a strong urge to learn to cook all the cuisines if he gets a chance. But homemade pasta is his all time favourite.
A story in your glass
Music, food and cocktails are a good combination and mixologist Pedro Rafael, has come to treat us well with his simple, yet flavoursome cocktails. Putting together right ingredients to make a perfect drink, for him creating a cocktail is like telling a story, recreating a experience. A fan of the Hyderabadi biryani, he has visited India quite a few times. And he has observed that people have changed over time. “I am very familiar to Indian cuisine Here, the crowd is growing. Knowledge and career paths have been changing and I can see a lot of aspirants who want to behind the bar, learn, make drinks and be happy about it,” he says. He is also glad that guests trying drinks enquire about what goes into it. And that is one reason why he entered the profession. “Interacting with guests, travelling the world, and being able to create experiences that can mark a moment in a person’s life keeps me going,” shares the man who grew up in London. And music, food and cocktails are all encompassing for him. “I cannot live without any of them. My life comprises of all the three together,” he expresses. Having been in the business for 20 years now. In the course he has also taught a lot of people this art. “Best experiences with thousands of people I meet, cuisines I have tried and drinks that I tasted and became friends with,” he says. His drinks are inspired from a lot of things that he picks up from reading, and experimenting and he says it is not too difficult. “Anything with passion can be acquired. A lot of hours observing, behind the bar, passion dedication, being a bit of a dreamer and a visionary always helps on the creative side of things,” he says as a suggestion to people who want to enter the field. And his funda to make a good drink is keeping it simple. “Basic combinations, fresh fruit macerations and herb concoctions made into marvellous drinks with spirits,” he explains.
Elli and Pedro are part of Masters of Food and Wine 2014 which is going on at Park Hyatt till September 21.