People

The game of cooking

My first experience in a Michelin starred restaurant was at the Sicilian restaurant “Madia” which is driven by chef Pino Cuttaia.

Before this experience I used to imagine that inside these kind of kitchens every move is precise and calculated; like in a fencing duel, no one would execute unnecessary moves because attention to detail is everything.

I was partially right.

Matteo-Testa_-PinoCuttaia

Without a doubt, the technical aspect at Madia is of a very high level but when I think about chef Pino Cuttaia, the technical aspect is not the first and only thing that comes to my mind.  He isn’t a chef that delegates everything to his team just to concentrate in other matters, on the contrary, he’s always present in the kitchen and if necessary takes on the role of station chef.

For my good fortune, upon my arrival the chef was in charge of the antipasti and dolci sections and in order for him to concentrate in developing new dishes as well as the gelato and granite production, he decided to teach me everything about the role of station chef. That’s why I was twice as lucky, I got the chef as teacher and direct boss on one side and on the other I could also work fairly independent managing an entire station (obviously the chef didn’t abandon me, he always paid attention to what I did, specially during the “rush hours” in which he took the command).  That’s how I witnessed from up close the chef’s gesticulations and follow up his creative process while enjoying being able to contribute to his ideas or give an opinion to his doubts.

Matteo-Testa_-PinoCuttaia2

But what really stroke me, as I wrote before, wasn’t his stunning precision but his innocence.  When the chef cooked I didn’t have an impression of witnessing an execution of refined technique, on the contrary, he looked like a baby playing with food and when the idea inside his mind started to take form, his gaze was of a milk drunk baby who found something good: innocent, happy and astonished.

Matteo-Testa_-PinoCuttaia3

The first time I witnessed this scene was while preparing a sauce.  I wouldn’t think that haute cuisine could be done that way, specially if you take into consideration all the attention that you should give to the preparation of any sauce; but this chef with his apparent baby-like body language cooks it way better than mine.

Playfulness and memories are two essential aspects of Pino Cuttaia’s cuisine, watch him cooking you would understand that this is his true approach to food.

Matteo-Testa_-PinoCuttaia4

Matteo-Testa_-PinoCuttaia5

Leave a Reply