My mission in the kitchen is clear: yes, I’m talking again about the aesthetics of taste.
Cooking can be a mechanical act, even a narcissistic one. My MasterChef experience brought home to me what motivates my own cooking. The real magic of food isn’t what it looks like on the plate, but how it tastes.
Unfortunately, many restaurants today choose surface over substance. Social media serves up colourful photos of dishes that look more like works of slick design, perfectly composed on the plate, rather than edible creations.
When I am in my kitchen, at home, or in a restaurant, or at an event like the recent Douja d’Or wine festival, I follow three guidelines in my cooking: sustainability, health and taste.
An authentic aesthetics of flavour
Chefs should be guided by sustainability as a principle. By this I don’t mean adapting themselves to a trend but adhering to a philosophy of discovering (or rediscovering) healthy ingredients, produced with respect for the soil and seasonal cycles. Without a doubt, this is an ethical choice but also an aesthetic one.
Health is beauty. Feeling, sensing, experiencing well-being through taste is a profoundly aesthetic act. At the root of such an experience, there must be thorough and conscientious research into real, fresh ingredients grown or reared responsibly.
Sustainability and taste are closely related. The flavour that comes from sustainable ingredients offers something extra; it is the first step of a journey that leads to the creation of harmonious dishes, with a wide range of aromas. And food with greater aromatic complexity also has wider nutritional potential.
Far too often, people mistake the search for flavour with the unquestioning exaltation of tradition. Let’s clear up this misunderstanding once and for all: our grandmothers’ cooking did not aim at flavour for its own sake, but at the reliable repetition of a dish. That’s where the ‘comfort’ in comfort food comes from.
Breaking away from the predictability of comfort food means courageously embarking on the exploration of a new territory, where familiar ingredients from the past yield new flavours – less comforting, perhaps, but pleasantly surprising. This is a space where sustainability, health, and taste entwine.
What is a Chef’s mission? Bringing an element of surprise to the flavour of his (or her, of course) dish.
That surprise can only be experienced if we dare to abandon our comfort foods – the ones we know best and that never change.
I have been lucky enough to wear the chef’s coat on many occasions: for Dujpuvrum, for Monferrato On Stage, and at the Douja d’Or wine festival in Asti, hosted by the Barbera Producers’ Association (just to name a few).
MasterChef gave me the opportunity to think about flavour from a new perspective. It was an important challenge: my philosophy of cooking – as a combination of sustainability, health, and taste – started to take shape back then.
When Federico Francesco Ferrero wears chef’s whites, he has a clear goal: never forgetting about tradition but following untrodden paths towards a culinary truth.
I am a cook with very precise ideas. I only cook with natural ingredients of extraordinary freshness. I cook everything al momento, from scratch. I don’t cook to amaze, or to style a plate for photographs, but to offer my guests the chance to surprise themselves with the flavours I create. I will be happy to cook for you.