Consultant Chef Luca Ciano says Nonna's cooking, in Italy as it is elsewhere in the world, translates as regional, classical peasant cooking. Today with the knowledge and the technology we have, it’s about using the same key ingredients and transforming it but still doing the best you can with the same produce.
“If a pasta puttanesca has those same ingredients, don’t muck around with it, just allow those ingredients to shine in a different way and use different cooking methods and put it in different forms,” he says. In a recent “cook-off” with Nonna Geraldine Lubrano, her traditional artichoke and veal meatball lasagne was transformed by Luca into three-layered lasagne discs, sandwiching artichokes and prawns surrounded by a moat of parmesan foam and topped with crisped pancetta.
“Generally, with creativity, knowledge and skills, you can turn something quite simple into something to dream of,” he says.
Do & Don'ts:
- Go back to traditional recipes, or those you love, and identify what you like about them.
- Use the same basic ingredients, but try to ramp up the quality of them.
- Peasant dishes look rustic, but restaurant dishes can be creatively plated.
- Don’t go over the top with too many variations.
- Be creative, by using what you’ve got in the pantry or cold store. Nonna had no choice.
To create that heritage feeling reference in a dish or venue: Yia’s chips with crumbled feta at executive Chef David Tsirekas’ 1821 in Sydney’s CBD or “A Tavola!” was the call Eugenio Maiale’s Nonna used, to get the kids to the dinner table, and became the name for his group of four Sydney restaurants.