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Chef Flavio Manzoni of Cape Sienna

Chef Flavio Manzoni
Chef Flavio Manzoni

Chef Flavio is an Italian born chef who just now is becoming the new executive chef for Cape Sienna. Phuketindex.com arranged to meet one afternoon. Very many thanks to Chef Flavio for this chance and a lovely interview:

Can you tell us when you decided to become a professional chef? When did you realize it?

“In my younger days, while I was going to school to become an architect, I was also cooking for all my friends and family.  To the point I was enjoy doing it so much, I decided to change my faculty to culinary art and travel to the States to get a diploma.”

Was there anyone in particular who influenced your decision? Who inspired you most?

“That was my mum. She always loves to cook and to have super nice food. In those days my mentor was Chef Gualitiero Marchesi [Wikipedia – Gualtiero Marchesi (born March 19, 1930) is a renowned Italian Chef, considered to be the founder of modern Italian Cuisine.] with innovative Italian cooking methods and presentation.”

What did you learn from them?
“Hard question… passion, creativity, and most of all – enjoyment to make my customers happy.”

Did you go to culinary school and if so where?
“Yes. I went to The Culinary Institute of America where I got my bachelor’s degree in Culinary Art. It is situated close to the Hudson River in Hyde Park, New York State, just 35 minutes north of the city.”

What was your first job as a professional cook and what was that like?
“My first job was at Villa d’Este, a luxury boutique hotel in Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy which is very close to where I was born. The hotel opens in the summer season and closes in the winter time. It was very hard those days. The Chef could kick you all the time for a small mistake like cutting the wrong side of the vegetable or breaking a mayonnaise. I can still remember I cried so many times and I wanted to quit. But after all the sacrifices, I can say I learned quite a lot.”

Where else did you work before joining Cape Sienna?
“I was in Bangkok working with Swissotel Nai Lert Park before Cape Sienna. I opened a restaurant ‘Il Tartufo’ in Tonghlor area where I had a chance to cook for a HRH Princess of Thailand and many other Thai elites. Earlier than that, I traveled around the world to open restaurants everywhere from America to South Africa, Seychelles, and so many other countries.”

What is your favorite style of cooking and what style most appeals to you?
“My style of cooking is a more simple way. I like to cook with key quality ingredients, from organic produce, artisan cheese and cold cuts to free range meats. I love the slow cooking style where the juice of the meat or fish stays inside of the fiber so the flavor is so intense.”

How about a signature dish or favorite recipe? Can you share it with us?

I can only tell you a simple one due to time restrictions.
Organic Egg with Black Summer Truffle, Potato Mousse, Wild Rocket, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Thin Bread Croutons.

Organic Egg with Black Summer Truffle
Organic Egg with Black Summer Truffle, Potato Mousse, Wild Rocket, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Thin Bread Croutons

How about a signature dish or favorite recipe? Can you share it with us?
I can only tell you a simple one due to time restrictions.
Organic Egg with Black Summer Truffle, Potato Mousse, Wild Rocket, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Thin Bread Croutons.

The ingredients:
•    1 organic egg
•    1 small size potato
•    30 ml organic milk
•    50 gr. Wild rocket
•    20 gr. Black Summer Truffles from Umbria
•    20 cl. Extra virgin olive oil
•    3 gr. Sea salt
•    1 thin slice whole grain bread

Are there specific traits you looked for that were essential?
“The main trait is pure passion to pursue my dream with perseverance and with the objective to teach and learn to the end of my journey.”

What do you bring along to Cape Sienna?
“First I bring my two hands and arms in the way I can cook some good dishes… heeee just joking … most of all my passion and the art to make this challenge very interesting.”

What is Mediterranean cuisine actually?
Mediterranean cuisine refers to the food of South Europe, North Africa to the border of Middle East with fresh ingredients. There are a lot of good vegetables, fresh fish and wide range of meats from villages around the coast of the Mediterranean. There are small farms or butchers where you can still enjoy basic good foods without any genetic alteration of the best flavors.

“In my younger days, while I was going to school to become an architect, I was also cooking for all my friends and family.  To the point I was enjoy doing it so much, I decided to change my faculty to culinary art and travel to the States to get a diploma.”

Was there anyone in particular who influenced your decision? Who inspired you most?

“That was my mum. She always loves to cook and to have super nice food. In those days my mentor was Chef Gualitiero Marchesi [Wikipedia – Gualtiero Marchesi (born March 19, 1930) is a renowned Italian Chef, considered to be the founder of modern Italian Cuisine.] with innovative Italian cooking methods and presentation.”

What did you learn from them?
“Hard question… passion, creativity, and most of all – enjoyment to make my customers happy.”

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