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Heinz Beck’s chef who brought Italian cuisine to Tokyo returns to Naples

An ancient legend tells that the first emperor of Japan one day climbed the highest mountain. From here, he looked at his immense land and saw it resembling a dragonfly. The dragonfly symbolizes, in the immense Japanese culture, yesterday and today, victory and courage. Symbol of those who always look ahead, the dragonfly was chosen by the samurai as a symbol of courage: imprinted on their shields, the dragonfly frightened the enemy and led to victory. Starting from so far away to tell about a chef is not simply a way to introduce him. It is to try to tour the world himself. What is the soul of his restaurant. Those Contaminations that made Giuseppe Molaro the little dragon of gourmet culture. La di lui is a kitchen that is filled with power, balance and liberation, with a strength that is full awareness of one’s own inner fire. His experimentation is a 360- degree research that leads his dishes to overcome illusions and to cross unexplored dimensions.

Yet, Giuseppe Molaro is only 37 years old today. That morning of years he was much younger. A confirmation email awaited him at the gateway to a new world. The suitcase full of warm things would have comforted him in that Ireland so cold and far from home. “If I’m here today, I owe it to my father”. This is the thanks that constantly guides the interview that has profoundly enriched us. Mr. Molaro Senior with entrepreneurial foresight placed the young Giuseppe on the one hand the choice of a unique opportunity and on the other a horizon of great trust and hope. “Well, yes, – he tells us – it was my father who launched my curriculum in the world, so that I could receive such training as to lead me to a certain elevation. Italy, Spain, France but only in the best of their proposals. I had not even a week to return home from Ireland and leave for Spain to visit Santi Santamaria’s kitchen.

A surprise! A kitchen that catapulted me into a new world. The desire to learn accompanied me from day one. Initially my place was not in the kitchen. Only in the third week did I set foot. Here is the life that I wanted to lead in front of me ”. Ferran Adrià had already marked his revolution for some time, Santi Santamaria was still the other option. But Molaro wanted to feel the flavor of that revolution come out of his hands. He started looking for who could give him that opportunity. The answer was offered by an interview with Hainz Beck. Young David had found his great Goliath: the challenge of an innovative cuisine completely different from what he had discovered in traditional Spain. Sacrifice and lack of his loved ones dearest to him was the other side of the coin with which he had to deal. But the stakes were too high: the opening of a Beck restaurant in Tokyo. Molaro sums up and strongly chooses to go to this land of unknown raw materials and techniques.

But before that there was still a little bit of Italy, Portugal and Dubai. “I was there, I had arrived in Japan – he tells us – and after having done the paperwork, I enter a restaurant. It was all dark, the menu was indecipherable! So I chose with my eyes closed “. But he did not expect that his mind would open in that moment: “I discovered completely new flavors, flavors that from that moment I began to chase and love”. Then there was the inauguration of Beck’s project. In a short time, Molaro is Chef of the gourmet restaurant: “I didn’t sleep at night, I felt the responsibility to keep up Beck’s name and I wasn’t even 30 years old!”. After a few months, the satisfactions and acknowledgments arrived. Giuseppe has blue eyes like the great sea of Naples that if you are not careful, in that great sea that beats in his chest, you risk falling. That same sea that brought him home, in which he always believed. That same sea that gave him back to his roots. Opening in a place marked by an almost maniacal faith in the Neapolitan tradition, bringing his cooking philosophy and his dishes so “far away” here was not easy. He was well aware of this, but the idea of choosing Somma Vesuviana was part of that great life project which, like a circle, closed and opened his destiny. Today, Contaminazioni is the destination not only of those same Neapolitans who did not believe in it, but also of enthusiasts who come from different areas of Italy.

Contaminazioni opens in November 2019. But then comes the pandemic. Giuseppe Molare is not there to sit still. And he continues to explore the world of fermentation and not only carrying out his research every day: black garlic vinegar, pineapple, acacia honey, minestrone (born during the pandemic), bread, game garum and much more that we will shortly tell about So Wine So Food. Today was his biggest gamble, his courage and his victory over the enemy, the pandemic. And if a small hidden place on the slopes of Vesuvius today has a shining star, it is due to this samurai who, like the dragonfly, always looked forward. And today like a samurai, he continues to fight with engraved on his shield, on his restaurant, the dragonfly that always looks ahead, protecting the great dragon that is in him.

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