Monzù: cuisine with view, a terrace overlooking Faraglioni rocks : multi-sensory experience (taste, smell, sight ..). Gourmet restaurant of the luxurious Hotel Punta Tragara, between its lines designed by Le Corbusier, sticks out the kingdom of Chef Louis Lionetti : 32 years old, he already boasts an impressive curriculum.
“Everything begins at age of 15 years, in Pescara where I was pursuing my childhood dream, to be a football player. Unfortunately, due to an injury I had to give up this passion.”
But Luigi did not lose heart and started chasing another passion.
“I attended the hotel management school” De Cecco “, who organized me an internship at the restaurant” Da Paolino “Capri.” The beginning of an everlasting love : the one for cooking. “To be honest, from a very young age, I have alway been enchanted to see my grandfather preparing delicious meals and I still remember the fish lunches in the best restaurants of Naples, when my father took me with him to see the football matches of our favourite team .”
Essential experience, “I have lived there (he really used this verb!) seven seasons working hard.
I learned what are sacrifice, respect for colleagues and hierarchies. Lino De Martino is one of the greatest restaurant manager of the Island. I owe my personal growth to Nando Arcucci, Chef of the restaurant at that time, a very nice person that immediately pushed me to continue working in that field. “
Luigi is eager to learn new things and more and more passionate about cooking: features that will make him a “next door” Chef .
In 2007 at the age of 23, he has the opportunity to join the team of the prestigious hotel “Punta Tragara” of Capri, as a sous-chef, and from 2011 as Executive Chef. “Here I was lucky enough to work with the starred chef Gennaro Esposito of Torre del Saracino. Gennaro revolutionized my career. I feel enriched, both professionally and personally, I have learned how to recognize raw materials, to respect and value each product during its specific season. “
Your career as a Chef led you to travel and challenge yourself with other realities, but yet in your menu is always recognizable our local raw materials. There’s always a piece of Capri with you. Tell us about this mix and your relationship with the island.
“The cuisine is my playground, my second home. It ‘a place where I feel particularly at ease and free to express myself in so many ways.
I never forget our territory, even when I cook modern dishes: at Monzù we are sustainable from all points of view, innovative, and we are open to all the possibilities that the gourmet world of today offers us.
Travelling in many different countries, questioning yourself with other colleagues, enriches your professional background. No coincidence that some influences grow from these experiences, that I then put into practice. But what makes the difference today is knowing how to be authentic.
Capri is omnipresent, even in certain experiences and events I took part, I always carried with me this beautiful island, especially in 2013 when I ran as best emerging chef , for Luigi Cremona Award, in 2013. The dish that I presented was a ” Mozzarella ice cream” , I am proud of it: a basil soup and a biscuit with tomato. I called it “Unusual Caprese” , revoking the caprese salad, the same ingredients used in a sweet way.
In my menu , I will never miss: tomatoes, lemons, extra virgin olive oil, fresh fish . Today we can be good, very good, but without great raw food we can do very little. The products must always be respected and never stressed. “
During the era of health-consciousness, you propose dishes like pasta with potatoes, or eggplant parmigiana ..Do they work? How could you make the Mediterranean cuisine lighter without betraying its taste?
I belong to a land of great products, the most linked to our tradition, often the simplest dishes, are the winning, so in my menu there will be always dishes like spaghetti with clams.
The future is make the cuisine as light as possible : always keep an eye on vegans and vegetarians, they are growing more and more and we are happy to receive and satisfy them in the best way.
I can consider myself obsessive about work, because I love the constant research for taste.
A dish comes from a thousand memories, talking to an old person, a fisherman, with my grandfather, dealing with colleagues; it is crucial to give value to what the season offer us..Then the Inspiration can come even listening to a song or looking at my children ..
Questioning yourself, keeping up-to-date is the spice of my life the real secret of this work.
I try a recipe million times before it reaches an excellent standard and has something to tell. And for this I am very pleased that most of the customers who come to Monzù, tell us that they find the cuisine tasteful .. it makes me even more happy when the same client return to eating that particular dish..That’s a real satisfaction.
Your brigade, what does it mean to you to be Chef? Leader, or active part of the group? Your rules in the kitchen?
“Chef” … I have always considered it a buzzword, “cook” sounds better, but having such a big responsibility overjoys me, I know I have a huge duty because I certainly can not go wrong nor let down anybody.
Luigi loves the team working: “The key to success is a right brigade: make sure that the people you work with are valid and adequate first of all as person, then comes the rest. In our kitchen we are all part of this wonderful job, we are a team of which I’m proud : Antonio my sous chef, Riccardo , we worked together for six years .. we are friends as well as colleagues. The all have hearts of gold. A fundamental part of this fabulous team are our three dishwashers who follow me everywhere. They are never mentioned but behind us there are them .. We could hardly do well without them.
Michelin, what does it represent for you this world?
Michelin to me means a stage not a goal.
It might me reached with specific standards of quality, raw materials and definitely an impressive cuisine.
I would lie if i would say that we do not believe we can achieve it…
The road is still long, but we are a beautiful property, perhaps one of the most competitive on the Italian and international scene. I consider myself extremely lucky to be part of it.
The cook with his dishes tells stories and if you manage to transmit them it is a great collective success
In the kitchen I can not stand who doesn’t have passion in what he does.
If a dish, when I taste it, excites me then yes , it is ready to be part of the menu.
Gourmet addresses you would recommend.
Among the great Chef I have met in my path, I want to mention Giuseppe di Martino, sous chef of Gennaro Esposito, now Chef of Postrivoro, Faenza; Rocco De Santis, Chef at Vistamare ( Latina), Cristian Torsiello in Valva, who recently won his first star, a very humble guy, grown up with Niko Romito. It is rising more and more the skill of women in the kitchen: I can name Fabiana Scarica with her restaurant in Vico Equense “Villa Chiara.”
While on the Coast, I might be biased, but when I sit a at the table of Torre del Saracino
of Gennaro Esposito is a thrilling experience, all the time. I am a person who can be satisfied easily, oddly my favorite dishes are the simplest ; what I can not resist is pizza and I always run when I can go to my sister and my brother in law in London, at the restaurant “Addomme
“. It ‘a place where in winter I often stop by, also because the hotel in Capri is closed.
In the gourmet world, you represent a rare exception, being very reserved person. What do you think of the of Chef as part of a star-system ?
Everyone tells me you’re very humble, and I should expose myself more..But I’m what I’m, so I prefer that my dishes speak about me.
I would not judge those who decide to appear on TV or be part of shows, I just think that if something is made wisely and can help the gastronomic circuit, then so be it.
AnnaChiara Della Corte
Italian version: http://www.capripress.com/site/?p=7334