Interview with Bruno Soleri
Bruno Soleri is a respected international chef, who has perfected his craft in his 18-year career in restaurants around the world. In 2011, he moved to his beloved San Francisco where he’s currently a personal chef for a well-known venture capitalist.
We met Bruno through a common friend, owner of a renowned restaurant in Milan, and he’s provided us with much appreciated professional insight on our products, which he has tasted and combined in creative recipes that we’re happy to share with our readers.
When we first looked him up we found a quite compelling review from Gambero Rosso, the most influential Italian wine and food guide: “A disciple of Gualtiero Maltesi, Claudio Sadler and Alice Waters, Bruno Soleri joins unusual ingredients in thoughtful combinations, with quick cooking techniques that allow to preserve the original flavors”.
Bruno, where do you start from when creating a new dish?
The ingredients are paramount; they trigger my creativity. I taste something that I like and my mind starts imagining how to blend and contrast its particular flavor so that the end result is a balanced mix of ingredients and characteristic of each of them. The more I traveled and worked abroad, the more I realized that there’s a common thread in the cuisine of all continents and it’s precisely the savvy combination of contrasting flavors. Once you master that, you can create and enjoy a new dish every day .
About that, you were praised by the Italian specialized press for being able to come up with 3 multi-courses menus that would change daily… Quite a challenge!
Well, it involved a lot of work and experimenting, but more than a challenge to me it was a way of expressing myself, my personal history with food, the scents and flavors I have experienced, the people I had met. I believe you can make a new dish out of a traditional recipe just by thoughtfully altering a few elements and if you find the right taste combination people will enjoy even things they thought they didn’t like.
While working in Japan, I was a guest with a wonderful family for whom I would occasionally prepare some typical Italian dish. While the wife soon became very fond of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, the husband wouldn’t hear of it until I found a way of adapting these fundamental ingredients of Italian cuisine to the particular Nippon taste, by blending them with either Tsuyu, a soy sauce, or Yuzu, the traditional Japanese citrus. From then on, olive oil and balsamic vinegar became a fixture at their table!
One might feel a bit intimidated by the task of trying to make a refined French or Italian dish at home. It looks like a lot of work and you’re never sure of the outcome….
It’s true that there is a European cuisine that’s very sophisticated and requires a lot of work, but you also have very simple dishes that can overwhelm you with flavor without requiring much more than chopping a shallot and adding it with the right condiments to a seafood salad. Actually, this is the question I always start off with when I cook for myself: how much work do I feel like putting into it today? Once I’m set on that, I know what ingredients and types of food I should turn to so that even the simplest recipes become true tasting experience.
But the quality of the ingredients is what I concentrate on. You cannot make something taste good, it’s either there from the beginning or it’s not. What I like in the products offered by Savors of Europe is that they are made by people who care about quality; artisans who spend time experimenting and researching until they find the perfect combination, the product they had imagined. Just like I do when I cook.