Among the illustrious teachers of the master labeled So Wine So Food there is also the young starred from Campania, directed towards a cuisine with strong flavors and not at all trivial.
A master in the name of quality. These are the excellent premises that accompany the master organized by the newspaper So Wine So Food together with the University of telematic studies IUL. Among the teachers, real institutions of the food and wine universe, Francesco Sodano could not be missing, young and whimsical chef of Il Faro di Capo d’Orso, a starred restaurant located in the heavenly setting of Maiori (SA). on the sensory analysis of food, aimed at the knowledge of techniques for the correct evaluation of the elements through the 5 senses.
We at So Wine So Food have decided to interview him to let us tell his idea of cooking and to know what future food and wine critics should expect from this interesting master.
What are the precautions that a great chef adopts to ensure that a food critic can fully understand his idea of cooking?
“My cooking is very unconventional, you either love it or hate it. I chose to push on bitter and acid notes, fermented is very present in my dishes.
To give the customer a wide choice, we have created three different menus. The first is set on the vegetable, not to be confused with the vegetarian. Vegetables are in fact the main ingredient but can be accompanied by a meat sauce, a foie gras cream or an anchovy garum. We called the second menu “Materia” precisely because we process the raw material at 100%, trying to make the most of the fruits of our territory. In this context we have inserted fish maturation with fish coming exclusively from local fishing boats. An example dish of this philosophy is Ricciola and Riccio: in the preparation we use only the part of the ventresca (the rest is then used for other recipes), to which we combine a sea urchin in emulsion and a sea urchin bottarga which is dried a year in beeswax. For me this means Materia: two apparently simple ingredients but with an important process, which obviously requires time.
The last menu bears the name of “Contaminations” and indicates what my inspiration is and what my experiences have been, together with my brother, around the world. Specially for this menu we have reproduced a rock of Maiori. Forged for us by a ceramist, this “rock” hosts, as in nature, crab, limpets, sea urchins, mussels, algae. The name of this dish is strongly evocative: “Crab between Varanasi and Hong Kong”. A light yellow curry sauce, which brings us back with mind and palate to the great spice market of the Indian city, is linked to a hyper local fish and to the XO sauce that we prepare with dried crab meat “.
For every chef, “shopping” is a fundamental step, the first approach to the raw material. How and on what basis do you choose the ingredients for your kitchen?
“We have based our work outside the large-scale distribution circuit because we do not consider it sustainable. We prefer to rely on small niche producers to try to be as exclusive as possible. As regards the vegetable sphere, we try to agree with small local farmers that we value. and of which we know the working method perfectly. As regards the animal product we avoid intensive farming or unsustainable fishing approaches such as trawling. Taking farmed fish as an example, the difference with a catch is particularly evident both in flavor as in the consistency of the meat. In short, the search for quality in the raw material is fundamental for us because it determines the success of the final product. A curiosity: in the first lockdown we conducted, almost involuntarily, a really successful experiment. We usually fry the pigeon in beeswax for about a month and a half. During the lockdown, due to force majeure, the pigeon remained in the wax for three more months. The result of this long seasoning was decidedly spectacular “.
When Francesco Sodano is out for dinner, what is the first characteristic he notices and looks for in a dish?
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m always looking for strong tastes like bitter, acid, toasted. My cooking is definitely not very delicate and reflects what I’m looking for: clear flavors and perfect execution, I like” punches in the palate. “.
This passion of mine for “strong” flavors is not easy to classify within a menu because if a dish with a strong taste is followed by a slightly delicate recipe, the risk is not to make it stand out the right way. The order of exit of the dishes is therefore fundamental. In this sense, we opt for a crescendo of flavors “.
What should future food critics who attend the So Wine So Food Master expect?
“The concreteness, which will certainly not be lacking when you see the names of the colleagues who will form the teaching staff together with me. These are trained people who will be of great support to those who will face this type of course. I, despite my young age, had the pleasure of traveling, tasting, getting to know many cultures and gastronomic realities. I consider myself a lucky person also because, together with my brother, we started the job when we were young and we are children of art, as my parents both teach at the hotel school . This profession, therefore, we have it in our DNA “.