Lazarin joins us with years of experience both in Italy and the UK, having perfected the art of Italian cooking from a very young age. His expertise has led to a number of new dishes being added to the Cantina menu, which if you haven’t had a chance to try already, you definitely should!
Lazarin can’t wait to meet you all, but in the meantime, read on for a Q&A and discover more about Lazarin, his cooking background, his love for Italian cuisine and his new dish recommendations.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your cooking background, and how you became a Chef?
A: I grew up in a seaside town in Italy. My Step-father was a baker with a love for food and baking. In the summer, we used to go to the sea and go fishing, collection clams and mussels which we’d later cook together. I decided to go to culinary school in Modica when I was 14 and continued to help out in my family’s pizzerias, restaurants and bakeries, working as a waiter or in the kitchen until I was 18.
When I was 19, I decided to move to London. I wasn’t supposed to stay, but I began working in a kitchen and saw an opportunity. My experience in the kitchens back in Sicily made this easy, and I fully immersed myself in the world of cooking. I then worked in a number of restaurants in the UK, Italy and even New York such as Villa di Geggiano, Osteria dell’Arancio and Cipriani.
After moving back to Milan in 2017 to work as an Executive Chef and Consultant, I made the journey back to London in October to join the family at Cantina del Ponte!
Q: What is your favourite thing about being in the kitchen?
A: It has to be the environment, the discipline, the heat. And also the food you serve – how what you’re creating can bring back memories and make new ones. Personally, I think the more simplicity the better, the product being the main ingredient is what transports you back.
Q: Is Italian your favourite cuisine?
A: Honestly I love all food, all around the world, especially Asian food. However I have to say that Italian is simply the best. My love for Italian cuisine has grown even more of over the last five years where I travelled around the country, enjoying a real food journey and discovering the unique mix of cultures and what each has to offer. Also the produce is unbeatable, the environment and climate lends itself to the most delicious product that are difficult to find elsewhere of that quality.
Q: What are your top three Italian dishes… if that’s not too hard to answer!
A: Top 3 is definitely too difficult to choose, and as a Chef my favourite things to cook change a lot. I would say my favourites must be fresh pasta – in particular in Sicily where we make a variety of pastas both with and without egg. I also love the fresh fish in Sicily, and being able to work with and enjoy the simplicity and speciality of the ingredients.
Favourite dishes to eat however, must include Risotto alla Milanese of course, Parmigiana and a good braised beef.
Q: As Head Chef, what do you expect from your team in the kitchen?
A: I really love the team that I have with me in the kitchen. They’re a great bunch where everyone is incredibly passionate, always trying their best and working their hardest – I really see myself in them.
When running a kitchen its very important for there to be respect within the team, in each other in in discipline. The environment is so fast-paced that if one falls it effects everyone. And the most important thing is of course for the team to be passionate about food, because you can build from that. You can teach people everything, but it is the passion that comes first.
Q: What are your non-negotiable, essential ingredients to have in the kitchen?
A: In an Italian kitchen, the basics are a good Olive Oil (Extra Virgin of course), tomatoes, flour, eggs, basil… and a personal favourite would be Octopus.
Q: Lastly, your lovely new menu! What dishes would you recommend our guests?
A: If I had to pick one it would be the Brasato di Manzo al Vino. The braised beef is really special, it is slow cooked at 130 degrees for six hours, which makes it incredibly soft and incredibly tasty.
But honestly all the dishes are amazing, I can’t wait for our guests to visit and enjoy!