You can taste the childhood memories of every Italian in the first courses of Cristiano Tomei
Pánta rhei. “Everything flows“. It is Heraclitus’s summon at the base of his philosophy. With time, everything changes. Even pasta, which has always been rooted in our imagination and for centuries as the hub of Italian cuisine, has changed over time, not only in form. A few years ago, it was very rare to see a dish of dry pasta in a Michelin starred kitchen. Today, this concept has changed thanks to new combinations and innovative cooking methods. Cristiano Tomei is one of the chefs who plays with pasta the most: the Viareggio chef has his own way of conceiving pasta dishes. He surprises everyone with extravagant combinations of flavoured spaghetti and fermented bread; he experiments with new cooking methods when using the pasta scraps for pasta broth, where he cooks spaghetti: “in this way I exalt the taste of wheat”.
“Pasta – Tomei says – is central to our gastronomic culture and to the Italian lifestyle, so it must be respected and we want to feel its taste. To succeed, I have always treated it with the utmost simplicity, touching it as little as possible”. The simplicity of which Tomei speaks, also emerges from the cooking of some of his dishes, including the thimbles pasta cooked in a mixture of half a broth of grilled vegetables and half oil flavoured with the same vegetables; the pasta, cooked in these two liquids, is served only with the addition of the flavoured oil, without any other seasoning.
“Cooking is memory and emotion. Pasta – the chef continues – is that ingredient, for Italians it has an evocative value. In fact, it allows us to recall scenarios related to family and childhood”. The masterpiece of Tomei, which reaches its peak of emotion, is his interpretation of pasta with tomato sauce: a sort of “playdough” with a red colour obtained from overcooked pasta waste in tomato water, used as a pastry for stuffed ravioli with a parmesan fondue and served in a steaming basket. The plating is outstanding: it succeeds in giving life to a game that engages different senses, so that diners have no idea of what they will experience. Only the taste will reveal that this is the dish of every Italian’s childhood.