Matteo D’elia is the new Head Chef at Il Pampero at The Hari Hotel. The entire menu has been refreshed with some of the most intricate, polished, inventive, clever and downright delicious Italian plates. Il Pampero is definitely one of the destination Italian restaurants in London.
Matteo D’elia is here to refine and even redefine Italian cooking with his incredibly detailed dishes that are a feast for all the senses. Must try dishes are ravioli filled with carbonara sauce, courgette & cured pork cheek, a beef tartare shaped like a pizza with lemon confit, cured egg yolk, chives & mustard and a multi element quail main course with nduja.
We caught up with Matteo to talk about all things Italian food.
How did it all start?
I had my first internship in a kitchen near Trastevere, one summer break before starting high school – it’s safe to say I never looked back. I was fascinated by the variety of jobs, the organisation and of course the creativity required to compose a dish.
What is the secret to Italian cooking?
Well it might not be a secret anymore, but Italian chefs are every lucky to work with an enormous variety of excellent ingredients due to the unique location of Italy. Surrounded by a good sea, the peninsula goes from north to south on a perfect latitude; it is the only place in the world with this kind of geographical distribution. For this reason, we have over 7000 edible vegetable species and 58,000 different species of animal, add to that 1200 local vineyards, with 533 species of olives – Italy has such a wide biodiversity for such a small country. The secret to Italian cooking is its simplicity, because nature already made it so diverse.
What attracted you to Il Pampero?
It was an opportunity for me to spread my wings and to show my strengths, coming from a background working at both large hotels and small boutique restaurants – plus the team are so wonderful here.
You were at Galvin at Windows before. What were the most valuable things you learnt?
I loved my time at Galvin at Windows, I learnt how to manage a team of chefs and how to communicate with different departments. I am so thankful to Chris Galvin, Peter Avis and Head Chef Marc Hardiman for all their support during the time I worked there.
Tell us about the twists you have created for your menu at Il Pampero?
My menu offers guests the possibility to explore typical Italian recipes with touches of international ingredients and techniques. Guests can experience the taste of my Italian grandmother’s dish, combined with the expertise of a scientist and the creativity of an artist that travelled around Europe.
What is your signature dish and why?
My signature dish is the “Quail in the Hay”; it is an explosion of flavours and colours and the plating showcases the quail as a piece of art in his natural habitat.
If you were to award a Michelin star right now, who would you give it to and why?
I would award a Michelin star to Galvin at Windows because I believe Marc Hardiman is a brilliant hard working chef who really deserves it.
Do you have any pre-service rituals with your team?
It’s a simple step by step process: cleaning, set up, tasting and get some fresh air. Then my team are ready for service to start.
What do you like to cook at home?
Fish and healthy salads.
Top 3 Restaurants in London?
Restaurant Story, Sketch and HIDE.
What is next for Il Pampero?
It would be easy for me to tell you, but I’d like for people to come and see for themselves!
Favourite kitchen equipment?
Is it fair to say, a spoon! But in all seriousness, from a smoking gun to a vacuum machine to a Thermomix or a drier or aging fridge, they are all necessary for the creation of great food – and it’s too difficult to choose.
What can you advise young chefs who want to do what you do?
1) Have a plan and don’t settle with “just enough”, if you don’t know where you are going it’s hard to achieve anything!
2) Study and research for it. If you don’t have the answer, find it out.
3) Be persistent and don’t give up, believe in yourself. If you fall, try again from another side.
4) Pay attention to your duties and don’t be careless, if you want something it is worth the time.
5) Communication is the key for any relationship in work or life, be impeccable with your words because we are all dependent upon each other. Life is a group effort.
To discover more about Matteo D’elia, visit: ilpampero.com
All imagery courtesy of The Hari Hotel.
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