Friendship between peoples is also celebrated at the table. The famous Italian three-star of the Cerea family lands in the financial capital of Vietnam
“So close but yet so far”; this is how Europe sang and still sang in the chorus of their magnificent 1991 grunge ballad “Prisoners in Paradise”. And why not start from this musical quote to introduce and tell the relationship that binds two geographically antipodal lands such as Italy and Vietnam. First of all, we are talking about an authentic friendship between peoples, a widespread partnership, remarked with extreme satisfaction also by the current members of the Vietnamese Embassy in Italy. However, what binds the two populations profoundly is a very similar gastronomic soul. We are referring to the meaning and value that people, friends, families give to the meal.
Not a mere physiological need to be overcome, but rather a social catalyst, a “secular mass” made up of small details, attention, participation and deep respect for the raw material on the table. Also thanks to this culinary spiritual closeness, the relationships, exchanges and collaborations between the two peoples are manifold. In Ho Chi Minh (also known as Saigon), the metropolis and beating heart of southern Vietnam, a large Italian family is about to inaugurate a place that will surely be talked about: we are referring to the Cerea and their “Da Vittorio”, real pride of Italian catering in the world. To find out more details on the upcoming opening, we interviewed Rossella Cerea, General Manager, as well as lady of the hall of the famous restaurant in Brusaporto (BG). How did the idea come about and what prompted your family to bring a great brand like “Da Vittorio” to Vietnam? Honestly, I must confess that even in the case of Vietnam, as in that of Shanghai, it was not a matter of choice, but rather of coincidence. Our partner was in fact first of all a customer, in love with the kitchen and our approach to hospitality. Thus was born his strong desire to reproduce everything in his country. Why did the choice fall on Ho Chi Minh? Again, as above, mere coincidence.
The customer in question is in fact an important Vietnamese entrepreneur, owner of a series of hotels, including the Reverie Saigon in which we are opening with our “Da Vittorio Saigon”. The idea of expanding into a country with Vietnam won us over immediately. It is a beautiful, fascinating and expanding country, we are sure that its growth will continue in the years to come. Ho Chi Minh, even more than Hanoi, is certainly the fundamental city from a financial and economic point of view. What are the similarities that you noticed in the way of living cooking by the Italians and the Vietnamese? I admit that before visiting Vietnam in person, during the last inspection, I did not imagine there could be so many similarities in the way of understanding the two kitchens. First of all, I must say that as with Italian cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine is also incredibly varied. There are differences not only from region to region, but also from city to city and even from family to family a bit like it happens in our beautiful Italy. Another thing I was fascinated by is the attention they devote to the research and choice of fresh and high quality raw materials. The proximity to the ocean allows us to have different varieties of fresh fish, the fish on which our cuisine is based. There are also many vegetables, herbs, spices. The Vietnamese one, like the Italian one, is a cuisine of history and tradition. In general, it is clear that we are not talking about similarities in taste, but rather in the structure of the culinary sphere. From a gastronomic point of view: what will be the common thread that will link your restaurant in Italy with that in Vietnam? Will there be iconic dishes that will be re-proposed in the Asian country? Absolutely yes, as for our restaurant in Shanghai, we will try to bring our recipes using local products.
The menu will be traditionally, mainly based on fish, but there will certainly be our paccheri and other iconic dishes such as tuna spaghetti and egg-all-egg. Da Vittorio is a temple of catering in Italy, one of the most iconic places in the Bel Paese where haute cuisine and a competent and expert dining room complement each other perfectly. Is this the path that will also be pursued in Vietnam? In this sense too we are doing our best. The Executive Chef and the Restaurant Manager, key figures of the restaurant, have been chosen by us. They worked with us in Bergamo having the opportunity to live our style of restaurant and above all to understand the philosophy of our family. Other figures will join them from Italy in next months. Surely at the beginning it will not be easy, there are also some obstacles from a cultural point of view, but we have already started a training process for the local staff. Training that we are clearly doing in this pre-opening phase, but which will also continue on a daily basis once the restaurant has opened to the public. The harmony between the dining room and the kitchen, which work together like a large orchestra, is a value in which my family and I deeply believe. Another important value is to always be felt present despite physical distances, with periodic in-depth and alignment calls.