Aiming to bring chefs and food enthusiasts closer to one another, the Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel organized the Sheraton Culinary Academy. The purpose is to create an environment where chefs can talk about their philosophy around food, how they make dishes and showcase some of their work to food enthusiasts, almost like a master class from a popular TV show. This evening saw us working with Chef Giuseppe Lioce, who recently moved to the city from the Westin and would be driving the kitchen at Bene. Like any Italian cook, Chef Giuseppe is very passionate about the food he makes and the flavours from back home in Southern Italy which he’s looking to showcase over the next one year.
The evening began with us being shown how to prepare the Panzerotti Pugliesi, and traditional Aulia calzone. While the end product looked fairly simple with a filling of tomato and buffalo mozzarella, the effort and precision that went into making the dish was something else. Right from kneading the dough to getting the filling spot on, the dish is deceptively simple to someone like me who doesn’t cook a whole lot. Traditionally, the dough alone has to sit for about two hours before it hits the texture needed to make this a superb dish (which immediately puts it off my radar of cooking; my window of patience is about 25 minutes). Shallow fried and served with a helping of balsamic caviar, the Panzerotti Pugliesi is a tasty little bite.
The next dish for the evening was the Cavatelli al pesto. While the sauce was a simple, yet very flavourful pesto sauce, this dish introduced me to the cavatelli pasta. Being someone who sticks to buying pasta off the shelf (PS – Even Marco Pierre White does it, so don’t roll your eyes), making pasta from scratch was a bit of a challenge. Taking a step back in time, Chef Giuseppe decided to do away with electric equipment and brought out the mortar and pestle. One of things I do admire is Chef Giuseppe’s appreciation for the older traditional ways of making food, like how our grandmothers would make, over contemporary methods that don’t always give you the best flavours. Relatively quick and easy to make, the pasta was served up with fresh ricotta and some ground garlic powder. I wasn’t a big fan of the garlic which overpowered the flavour of the freshly-made pesto sauce, an opinion others present did not share with me.
The final course for the evening was the Biscotti di Mandorle, more easily known as the Italian almond biscuit. Fairly simple to bake, these buttery drops of heaven were presented with ricotta ice cream in a neat little dessert that vanished the moment it was placed in front of us.
If the evening was anything to go by, we can definitely expect some fabulous cooking from Chef Giuseppe with strong traditional Italian flavours coming through every dish. The rest of the evening was spent by the poolside discussing food and India over some canapes and cocktails. Do get in touch with me if you’re looking for recipes from this post.