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Food As A Sensorial Experience – With Chef Rosario De Luca

In the era of meal replacements, frenetic life, and lunches at the desk, having a proper meal with no distractions seems to have become a luxury few can afford.

Italian chef Rosario De Luca dreams to bring our attention back to food.

If eating is a necessity and an essential part of our existence, let’s at least enjoy it and do it right. This approach seems particularly interesting if it’s true that we are what we eat and what we think.

As the chef’s motto says:

Sit at my table to travel with your senses.

De Luca takes his customers in a virtual trip through the rediscovery of the flavors and traditions of Italian cuisine.

Following Turin-chef Davide Scabin’s school of thought, the Rome-native strongly believes tradition is the best innovation. “Tradition is made of the dishes of our culture, the ones that are able to give us an emotion and re-awaken memories. The flavors that bring us back to our childhood,” Mr. De Luca explains : Tradition is in a continuous state of evolution. “Some changes happen because some ingredients are not available in an area, sometimes it’s a matter of trends and transformation of food culture,” says the Italian chef, “for instance, having a vegan option on the menu can be a way to move with the times.”

Rosario had an interesting journey before being able to dedicate his life to the restaurant world, his real passion. The kitchen was seen as a place for women and Rosario had to fight against a lot of resistance from his family and from Italian culture. He learned how to cook from his grandmother, especially during their Summers in the Calabria region. “My grandma didn’t love the idea I was developing a passion for food preparation. But it was in my DNA,” he explains.

You can try one of these “food experiences” at Cacciani in Frascati (near Rome, Italy), and in many other restaurants chef De Luca works as a consultant.

Cacciani is the place where Rosario started working part-time as a teenager and where he fell in love with the restaurant world. At age 26, he was already the main chef for pasta and risotto. He cooked for many celebrities and personalities, including some American presidents. “George Bush Sr. loves Italian cuisine, just like most Americans,” he remembers. “Ronald Reagan ordered a few pasta dishes, but I decided to offer him a ‘tonnarelli cacio e pepe’ for the table, a typical Roman staple. It was an instant success.”

The chef is very proud of this unique experience. He was also the private chef for the billionaire family Onassis and cooked for Imelda Marcos, the Philippines’ first lady, for a whole month in a hotel in Rome he was managing. “She had a huge number of suitcases with her. But what surprised me the most was the amazing number of shoes she was carrying: Over 1000 pairs,” Rosario comments.

If you want to learn how to make some of these recipes, you could decide to attend one of Rosario’s masterclasses at the Pizza and Passione Institute (Istituto di Formazione Professionale Pizza e Passione, with over 100 branches in Italy and other countries). Or try some of his recipes (cheffone.com).

Following the circular cooking philosophy, chef De Luca believes the best strategy to cut food costs is decreasing waste, not using shortcuts such as low quality ingredients, which compromises the final results with a total change of taste.

“Some Italian restaurants in America, for instance, use Parmesan cheese instead of real Parmigiano Reggiano. Then they add ingredients, creams and other stuff in order to appeal the US taste. This approach turned upside down many dishes, with an inevitable change of flavor,” Mr. De Luca states.

If you cannot afford to travel at the moment, you can embark in a journey with your palate. Pick high-quality ingredients and specialties that follow an itinerary. Sea or mountain for example with respectively fish and mushrooms. Follow some traditional recipes and savor every bite, paying attention to your body’s reactions, emotions, and thoughts.


Valeria Rubino

Original Article