Matteo De Carli – Italian Chef & Owner of Casa De Carli, Prague
After various international Executive Chef positions, today Matteo De Carli runs his own restaurant – the Casa De Carli in Prague, Czech Republic. The opening of his own restaurant was the fulfillment of Matteo’s dream. Matteo De Carli believes in hard work, creativity and fresh quality ingredients.
A Chef Portrait of Matteo De Carli
Matteo, where does your love and passion for the cooking job come from?
It comes most naturally. In the family nobody was involve in the restaurant business. The only influence I got from my childhood is to make things homemade. I remember we were making our own passata di Pomodoro for the whole years or lasagne from scratch on Sunday morning, I think this influenced me and the style of our restaurant. Today were we make everything homemade.
Which cooking school did you visit?
I attended a school in Varese my hometown called Istituto Alberghiero De Filippi.
Your time as Executive Sous Chef with Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin – what was your greatest learning during this time?
Yes, was one of the greatest experiences I had. A chance to explore many facades of the business, from financial side to product development to employees. There was a great culture behind and after years I am still friend with many of my colleagues.
How would you describe your culinary line today?
My line today is about seasonality of ingredients and to know who is producing the raw materials. Lately I have more and more suppliers that I buy from in Czech Republic and we become friend. It is great to know who is producing the food, their character. It reflects the produce.
In 2012 you opened your own restaurant, the Casa De Carli in Prague, Czech Republic. Why Prague?
Prague because of few reasons: My wife is from Prague and most important Prague was a city where to open something used to be more affordable than other main cities of Europe. Of course, the city is great with many parks and nature.
Right at the beginning of your time with your own restaurant – what were the biggest hurdles?
I was new in the country so it took me a while to find all the produces that I wanted. For me coming from large corporations was also challenging that I had to take care of many different aspect than the only kitchen, I was lucky – my wife – she was with me and helped so much.
What is the culinary set up you offer today?
A menu that change regularly, some interesting taste combination but not to extreme. I still like when you can taste each ingredient and it just elevates their taste when mix with other things on the plate.
Was there any need to adopt the dishes to the non-Italian guests?
At the beginning you have a lot of people giving suggestions and try to change what you do, make you believe it is for the better. I have never lived in Prague before so I did not know the local taste and that was a plus for us. We believed in our product and we kept our line without make any change to please the local clientele. I guess it was great as we had a different product than everybody. Of course, some people did not like it but at the end you cannot please everybody.
Can you share some of your latest creations/recipes with us?
One of the latest dishes is a fillet of sturgeon with eggplant, spinach, celery root and a sauce with dill and mint. I like that the vegetables are from local suppliers and the sturgeon come from Italy so a great combination of taste and country.
In Italy the Chefs and restaurants have often a close relation to some local food producers/suppliers. Do you have this in Prague as well?
More and more, at the beginning it was a bit more difficult for me, but in the last few years i think the producers improved a lot and I become friend with more and more of them.
Since you are already several years in Czech Republik, did you discover some secrets of the local Czech cuisine?
I saw many times my mother in law cooking but I feel that she always waits for the moment that I am not looking to add some spices on her food. I don’t know if I could replicate to perfection some of the local traditional dishes.
Have you ever experimented with some Italian/Czech fusion creations?
No, I did not combine the two cuisines. I think I will not even try. I like to keep identities. Sometimes, when we meet up with the family, I prepare some dishes but we do not mix two recipes.
If you have a day off and go eat in Prague, what is your favorite place?
Yes, I do have the Sunday off, but most of the time we cook at home or with the family. If we go out we eat some more exotic cuisines.
Thank you very much, Matteo!
A Italian Chef in Prague, Czech Republik. Being a Chef knows no bounds.
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