Contemporary cuisine, the pride of London, has an exceptional interpreter, who has brought Italy to the United Kingdom. Its Apulian origins are clearly present in the Bibendum menu, two Michelin stars
Proudly Italian, with clear ideas and a precise vision of food and the role of the chef. Francesco Dibenedetto, is the young Apulian chef today head chef at Claude Bosi’s Bibendum restaurant in London, where in just four months he has confirmed the two Michelin stars. Born in Barletta, Dibenedetto made a prestigious international career, leaving his homeland 20 years ago, and today he lives in the United Kingdom, in London. We had a long chat with chef Dibenedetto about the role of the chef today, and above all what it means to be an Italian chef in London. “Being an Italian chef is a very important task – Francesco began – it means being able to transmit our culture, food, the Mediterranean diet. The Italian chef must enhance the elements that make Italian cuisine unique: the simplicity of the ingredients, the raw product, the vegetables. And this enhancement must pass not through super elaborate dishes but in preparations that are able to bring out the product and its seasonality. In this I see Italian cuisine very close to Japanese, which is based on simple cooking that aims to enhance the ingredients. A friend I was having dinner with, one day he told me that there are two words in the world that give you a sense of wealth: Champagne and Italy.
The word “Italy” immediately gives a sense of the wealth of a country, and obviously I am not speaking of economic wealth, but of natural wealth, biodiversity, culture and traditions. Here is my dream is to enhance our nation on a global level, the richness of biodiversity and culture. We need to be more aware of the place we live in, of our riches and our culture, avoiding constant controversy. Nobody has what our land offers us. We must make today’s kids understand this, they must be able to understand their land ”. And how much Puglia do you put on your plates? “I always try to insert some inspiration that comes from my land, it comes to me automatically, without thinking about it too much.
At the beginning there was a clash of views with the owner of the restaurant (Claude Bosi), I considered the restaurant almost as a flagship of French cuisine, while I wanted to be able to give my Italian imprint. Over the years we have begun to know each other, to appreciate each other and to merge our cultures. For example, I brought the culture of the sea and vegetables (materials not too cooked or processed, to give freshness). I was thus able to give my imprint to the menu. Like, for example, in what I consider my signature dish, created two years ago: goat stuffed with Scottish razor clams, sea chard sauce and potatoes cooked in ashes.
As you can see a mix of the two cultures (the French part and the Italian part). In my opinion, in fact, food reflects the person, his identity and his culture. Food is nothing but the mirror of our identity, of our personality. When a customer chooses a restaurant, it is because he wants to discover the chef’s personality and culture. Cooking today has become more than ever a discovery of traditions, of cultures ”. So what will the future of fine dining be? “Haute cuisine – continues the chef – must be the bearer of a message of culture, it must convey to the customer the essence of the dish, not the technical work that the chef puts into it, the search for the wow effect, but the product used , its origin, the territory from which it comes, the people who produced it, the culture of which it is an important witness. Fine dining is the conductor of the message of those who work (those who cultivate, those who fish, the chef, etc.). It is important to convey the message of those who work behind every single ingredient of a dish, of their identity, transmitting the culture of the product.
I go to eat in that restaurant because I want to know the cuisine, identity and culture of that chef “. Also in England are you experiencing problems with the staff that so many complain about in Italy? “Yes, here too we have big problems finding qualified personnel, especially after Brexit. In my opinion it is important today to make young people understand what it means to be a cook, and why you choose to become a cook. That “inner call” as I like to call it. And to ensure that every boy is able to bring out this inspiration, we chefs have the obligation to do more training, not only technique on the type of cut, cooking, etc., but also training on the ingredients, on their origin, on what it means to choose them. one instead of another. We must make children understand that food is a mirror of theirs identity, and in food they express themselves, their personality and their values. Food is culture ”