Dardan Cahani – Sous Chef at Padam about modern Albanian cuisine
Dardan Cahani works as Sous Chef at Padam, a trendy boutique hotel and restaurant in Tirana, Albania. The use of local and fresh Albanian products makes Padam a great destination for gourmets. Dardan knows the Albanian cuisine very well, but also that the Balkans is a melting pot full of influences and impressions.
Dardan Cahani – Chef’s Portrait
Chef Dardan, today you work as Sous Chef in Tirana, Albania, in the trendy Boutique Hotel & Restaurant Padam. Where does your passion for cooking come from?
Many chefs have a mentor chef they envy, many chefs have an idol chef whom they attribute their passion, but for me it all came from my grandmother and my mother.
Since childhood, I remember making pickles with her and cooking the daily meals she prepared for the family in the wood-burning oven. I still feel the smoky chicken or the traditional cakes that are still very dear to me today, and led to many dishes that I have put on the menus.
Which cooking school did you visit?
I did visit and graduated the Culinary Art of London.
Albania, the hidden beauty of Europe. The country has only about 3 million inhabitants, a beautiful landscape, coastline, mountains, many traditions – just so much to discover. How would you describe the traditional Albanian cuisine?
Albanian food is as in any Mediterranean cuisine a lot of vegetables, parsley, dill, yogurt and lamb. It’s a mix of Albanian food and Turkish food. We try the best to separate them. Since 2016, many chefs have taken on this task. But honestly, it gets difficult every day.
Italian food was one of the mistakes we committed a few years ago, and we have forgotten our tradition.
What are typical Albanian dishes in the mountains, by the sea and in the capital Tirana?
As I said, it is a mix and very difficult to separate.
In the mountains, it’s mostly the pies, the cooked meat and the pickles.
By the sea there are fried seafood and grill fish.
And in Tirana is a mix of everything (modern Albanian cuisine, French, Italian, etc.).
Are there some typical Albanian cooking techniques?
We have a pie called FLI, which is typical for Albania. And a drink called BOZA that is also very Albanian.
Albania’s neighboring countries are Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Italy. Would you say that the kitchen of the Albanians has some influences from these countries?
The Balkans are very small and a difficult part of Europe. The influence between countries is noticeable in art, food, live style and temperament. Yes, our neighboring countries have a lot of influence on us and we have influence on them.
What is the culinary set up at the Padam?
At Padam we try to bring the Albanian cuisine back to a modern level, we are well known for the modern Albanian cuisine and use only local fresh Albanian products.
Can you share some of your latest creations with us?
My Executive Chef and I recently bring back an old Albanian dish called egg and yogurt.
But also, as an ingredient, we use fresh truffles. Egg confit, yogurt, ricotta, broccoli and fresh truffle.
The Padam Hotel is a boutique that combines elegant Victorian style with modern interior design, surrounded by a beautiful garden – a great destination for foodies. Which menu describes it best?
An 8-course degustation menu with Albanian wine pairing.
Cooperation with local producers: Do you also work with some local food producers?
I proudly can say that this is our key to success. I work very closely with them and visit the farms every week to discuss the products we need for the upcoming menus. I ask them not to use any form of hormones and so on.
If you had time to write your own cookbook, what would it be about?
In fact, there is an idea for a culinary book, but it will be a vegetarian cookbook – but for the record, I am not a vegetarian.
Thank you, Dardan!
It is not to be overlooked that Chef Dardan has a passion for the industry of hospitality and culinary arts.
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