Mise en place is the business of cutting and cleaning which precedes the actually cooking. Most chefs wait to climb the ladder to leave this part to the cooks. But not Chef Roberto Apa. This Italian Chef at Sheraton Grand at Brigade Gateway knew at the age of six that he wanted to be a chef. In conversation with Explocity, he talks of his journey.
I grew up in Pozzuoli, a small city near Naples with a strong culture of fishing. With that advantage I gained a lot of knowledge of fishes and its varieties.
Since I was six years old, I used to cook pasta for my younger sister. As I grew up, I developed the interest in cooking and started to cook more with my grandma and my aunt. One day after the first graduation my aunt asked me which kind of school I was thinking to go to. I said that I don’t know because the only thing I loved was cooking (I didn’t know there was any school to become a chef). So she told me to go to the culinary academy. While I was stretching the pasta sheet at home, I left everything and ran up to my father to tell him that I would like to join the culinary academy. I remember when I went to him, he was just eating, and because he loves to eat, he just looked at me and he told me OK. This is how everything is started.
My first experience in a professional restaurant was at the age of 13. Now I’m 28 so I am a chef for the last 15 years, and in February (my birth month) I shall complete 16 years of being a chef.
I think both are faces of the same medal, both are extremely fundamental for a chef. I really love to create and get inspiration every day from everything. My mind can associate to the food, but at the same time I extremely love to cook during the mise en place and the service time. I have a morbid feeling with the food, and I always tell my staff that the food speaks to you, and you have to have a strong feeling with it to hear what he talks to you, this is the only way you can cook and have the best from every product you use in the kitchen.
I think the authenticity of cuisine is really important. We shouldn’t forget where we came from. It is extremely essential to know the basics of our culinary culture and we have to respect it. By the way, the authenticity is the key of creation; only if we know the authentic food of any cuisine, it’s only then we can take it to a level of creation, even mixing more culture together, as I already do with some dish on my menu.
As I’m Italian surely I can’t leave without eating pasta, in all the form and with all its different kind of sauces.
You know, I’ve chosen to be a chef because I enjoy every kind of ingredients present on this planet (at least that I already met in my short experience as a chef around the world), but if I have to give you a precise answer maybe the things I have enjoyed less was the fried insect I’ve tried when I was working in Shanghai.
It’s been only 2 months for me in India.
So far I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I’m enjoying exploring the multi-cultural diversity this country has to offer.
Love to read historical books related to gastronomy. Explore different places, meet new people and study new their culture.