Ettore Michele Moliteo – Executive Chef presso Hotel Raphaël Rome- Relais&Châteaux about his culinary line, which is based on a vegetarian cuisine which draws ideas from the Sicilian culinary tradition.

 

After many different great chef positions in different places, today you are the Executive Chef at the Relais&Châteaux Hotel Raphaël. Where did your journey as chef started; where does your passion for this great job comes from?

My journey as a Chef started after I quit my university career. I started studying Electronic Engineering in Sicily, but then I found out that was not my path. So I decided to follow the passion for cooking that I had since I was I child and I entered the Gambero Rosso Cooking School which marked the start of my culinary career.

 

Which cooking school did you visit, and what was your greatest lesson out of this time?

In 2012 I attended the Gambero Rosso Cooking School in Sicily for four months. Then, I moved to Milan to attend the Joia Academy, The Gourmet Vegetarian School. There I was particularly fascinated by Chef Pietro Leeman and his lessons which have proven to be extremely useful for my job.

 

How would you describe your culinary line?

My culinary line is based on a vegetarian cuisine which draws ideas from the Sicilian culinary tradition. It’s a simple yet genuine cuisine which attempts to enhance Italian excellent raw materials.

 

As Executive Chef presso Hotel Raphaël Relais&Châteaux in Rome today; what is your culinary set up?

As Executive Chef at the Hotel Raphael, I am in charge of coordinating the kitchen and planning new and creative menus. Hotel Raphael is a bio-hotel which offers a superb organic and vegetarian cuisine. We produce our own bread and several varieties of pasta using Sicilian ancient grains such as Russello and Timilia.

 

What makes it for special to work in an Relais&Châteaux house?

Working in a prestigious family as the Relais & Châteaux house is a very inspiring experience. Relais &Châteaux links together Chefs from different parts of the world and with different culinary experience creating a stimulating working environment. I can sincerely say I am honored to work at the Relais & Châteaux house.

 

“New creative, organic and vegetarian cuisine, inspired by the art, tradition and culture of the area” is also a good description for your cooking today. Which dish would describe it best?

The vegetarian Carbonara is certainly the most representative dish of the tradition, art, and, culture of Rome. As for the ingredients, our carbonara is made with our home-made tagliolino prepared with Russello ancient grains, carrots, zucchini and the seitan which replaces the meat component – guanciale- of the traditional recipe.

 

As you concentrate as well on seasonal cooking; which vegetarian dishes do you offer during the winter months?

In winter months we try to enhance seasonal products. Last year, for instance, we offered a dessert prepared with fresh pears, chocolate, a crumble of pine nuts and a red wine reduction.

 

How often do you change the menu?

We change the menu four times a year according to seasonal products.

 

The Hotel Raphaël is an “Biohotel Organic”. How does this approach apply in your kitchen?

In my cuisine, I only employ organic products. Moreover, in order to respect the environment, we only use recyclable and biodegradable products both in the kitchen and in the rooms of the Hotel.

 

Where do you get your inspiration for new dishes from? You are known as well for unusual compositions that surprise for their harmony and visual appearance. Which of your dish describes this approach best?

The inspiration for my dishes comes from different sources such as the memories of my past in Sicily. For instance, the inspiration for one of the latest dishes I offered came from a walk I took in a forest in Italy. The smell of burnt wood and the sweet taste of the blueberries I picked in the forest, gave me the idea for a blueberry rice with a smoked carrots cream.

 

The hidden/ true champions of the Italian kitchen are the Grannies; how can you compete with them?

My culinary career started with my grandmother who taught me recipes and cooking tips. I used to watch her making pasta, especially ravioli, and there I started to be interested in cooking.

 

What does it mean for you to be a chef?

It means to tell the story of my territory through my dishes.

 

Is there any place in the world, you would like to work one day as Chef?

One day I wish to work in California whose territory and culture deeply fascinate me.

 

Less young people want to become chefs; what would be your idea to make this great job more popular again?

Being a chef is a tough yet gratifying job and when customers appreciate your dishes you do understand that yours is a valuable work. To make this job more popular again I would suggest organizing innovative cooking classes to show that genuine cuisine still exists.

 

Thank you Ettore Michele Moliteo.