In its traditional of introducing Italian regional food, La Piadina is bringing in for the first-time Tokyo-based Italian Chef Paolo Colonello to whip up some Renaissance delights from the Veneto, Lombardy and Tuscany regions. These areas are rich in cultural and gastronomic history and the Renaissance period was a particularly exciting time for arts and food, with Leonardo Da Vinci and Boticelli leading the Italian pack of creative individuals who flourished during this era.
Chef Paolo was born in Pordenone near Venice and studied Design at the Polytechnic of Milan before pursuing his passion for food at Altopalato Centro di Cultura enogastronomica (Center for wine and food studies). He studied under the watchful eye of Toni Sarcina, Altopalato (distinguished palate) co-founder, well-respected Italian food critic and original purveyor of Italian Nouvelle Cuisine together with Gualtiero Marchesi.
Chef Paolo worked at Innocenti Evasioni, a 1-star Michelin restaurant in Milan then at the Ristorante Acanto of Hotel Principe di Savoia before moving to Japan; he currently oversees the kitchen of chic Italian boutique restaurant Gliese and Passion Food Catering, one of Tokyo’s most sought after and well respected catering enterprises. Together with restaurateur Giorgio Matera and under the Passion Food Catering brand, they have organized events for some of today’s most important luxury lifestyle and fashion brands like Fendi, Bally, Tod’s, Etro, Gucci, Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Harry Winston, Damiani Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston Martin, Ducati and Rolls Royce. One of their most recent projects was a dinner in honor of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti during his State Visit to Japan in March.
Chef Paolo Colonello was drawn to the Renaissance because the food from that time remains relevant in Italian cuisine today. The Renaissance Menu is also a nod to Italy’s period of rich gastronomic and cultural history and its creative masters and geniuses Leonardo Da Vinci and Boticelli; did you know that Leonardo da Vinci worked as a cook in an Italian restaurant when he was a teenager?Did you also know that he was very good friends with Boticelli and in their youth they opened together an Italian restaurant called Tre Tartaruge (three turtles) to serve the aristocrats and the nobles of the Renaissance period? It was from hand painting their menus that they discovered their passion and talent for painting, a “twist of fate” that made both Leonardo Da Vinci and Boticelli two of the world’s grandmaster painters of all time.
Chef Paolo’s interpretation of the Cod Mousse on Fried Polenta is a modernized version of the Baccala, a favorite food of then Pope Pius V. His take on the Tortelli or Ravioli takes us back to the days when aristocrats and noble families from one thousand five hundred years ago prepared this dish to celebrated marriages between their families. Chef Paolo’s favorite is the “Venere” black rice dish with shrimps and lemon, his tribute to the Philippines. This particular black rice would not exist today if not for the painstaking research done at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, Laguna.
“The Renaissance cuisine is carefully prepared to please both the palate and the eye,” according to Chef Paolo Colonello. When asked what his trade secret is in cooking great tasting Italian food, his answer is “simplicity.” He believes in using no more than three main ingredients in a dish so he can highlight their special features – smell, color, texture and nutritional properties. He also believes in respecting the traditions and food cultures of all the regions in Italy. “Every region has its own particular characteristics, geographic composition, climate and produce, all full of unique nuances which if you combine with passion, could only result in authentic Italian food,” says the amiable Chef.
For the La Piadina at Solaris One building, he will also prepare an exciting mix of Italian appetizers that will go hand-in-hand with the store’s selection of fine Italian Red and White wines, Spumante and Prosecco called the “Aperitivo Menu” exclusively for the evenings. “Aperitivo” first became popular as a way of dining in Milan and has since spread to other cities in the world. “We wanted to create a place for people to unwind at night, have a taste of different kinds of food in small portions and come away relaxed and satisfied. We see La Piadina-Solaris One store as a short-walk away, no-hassle stopover for the residents and corporate types in Legaspi Village to enjoy great Italian food and chill before heading home,” says Giorgio Matera, owner of La Piadina; now that is “la vita bella.”
(La Piadina-Glorietta is at the 2nd level, Glorietta 4, Ayala Center Makati. Tel no. 5013788; La Piadina-Legaspi Village is at Ground Floor, Solaris One Bldg, 130 De la Rosa St., Legaspi Village Makati. Tel no. 5013205) (Boutique Restaurant Gliese is at Manivia Azabu-Juban Bldg, 7th Floor, 2-5-1 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo 813-64471122)