The magic mix: aromas, colors, the salty, sweet, bitter and the sour elements, as well as the texture play from the crispy to the softly tender
By Margaux Cintrano
Photos courtesy of Chef Dario Cristarella unless otherwise stated
Policeman Chef Dario Cristella was born and raised in the small city of Reggio Calabria in Southern Italy. This breathtakingly beautiful coastal and mountainous region is inhabited by a tradition bound people, descending from the Greeks, and possesses a seacoast largely undiscovered by most of Italy and the rest of the world.
The fact that the region is home to the famous Peperoncino, a hot red pepper, surely has influenced Gourmet Dario´s penchant for combining savoury, salty, bitter, sour and sweet elements in his modernist gourmet specialties and has veered him towards texture play, combining the crisp with the softly tender.
In Calabria, the caviar of southern Italy, il Caviale del sud, which consists of sun dried fish dusted with powdered peppercorns and preserved in extra virgin olive oil is the typical fare. This is spread on bread and eaten as an appetiser. As a child, Dario was inspired by his grandmother and mother preparing this Calabrian classic.
Margaux : Tell us where were you born and raised.
Policeman Chef Dario : I was born and raised in Reggio Calabria, Calabria on the southern tip of Italy´s toe, and the Messina Straits.
Margaux : Who or what influenced your profound interest in the culinary arts ?
Chef Dario : Firstly, I was inspired by my grandmother and mother.
Margaux : Tell us about how a policeman has developed his keen interest in the culinary arts with such stunningly presented plating.
Chef Dario : Firstly, I have grown up around food, so I have always honed my techniques through my enormous collection of cookbooks, my other passion, and later the Internet.
Chef Dario : Seasonal fresh natural ingredients, and cooking by my highly developed instinct. The aromas, the colors, combining savoury, salty, sweet, bitter and sour elements in the same dish, as well as texture play, from crispy to softly tender.
Margaux: Tell me, what is your greatest challenge in the kitchen ?
Chef Dario : Temperature control, and to serve hot dishes at the right time especially for large groups.
Chef Dario : My first step is to have lots of paper, pens, and colored pencils. I write down the ingredients and organize them according to the colors, the textures, the placement on plates and I sketch the ideas and render them in color. Then, I use these renderings to reproduce the presentation.
Margaux : Who do you deem as the best Chefs in the art of plating ?
Chef Dario : In Italy, Chef Anthony Cannavacciulo. Among foreign Chefs, Chef Rene Redzepi and Chef Gordon Ramsey.
Chef Dario : A cookbook I have been working on, and to discover new flavors for my kitchen.
Margaux : Wow. I cannot wait to read it ! Now, to conclude, why did you choose to become a policeman and not a Chef full time ?
Policeman Chef Dario : The stability of a government job during hard times.
Photo of the monument of Victor Emmanuel II, first king of a united Italy, by PT
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:ParisThomas&action=edit&redlink=1) – CC-BY-SA 3.0
Sardella, il Caviale del sud, by Renny DJ
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:RennyDJ) – CC-By-SA 3.0
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