Alberico Penati Wins Michelin Star at Hotel de Vigny
16 February 2015
Alberico Penati: Delivering Michelin Starred Italian Cuisine to Delighted Parisians
A minute's stroll from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees, you can now find the new spiritual home of Italian cuisine in Paris. Nestled within the five-star Hotel de Vigny, and opened to universal acclaim just ten months ago, the "Penati al Baretto" is redefining Italian excellence in the French capital.
This joint venture by renowned Italian chef Alberico Penati and Venetian business man Pier Silli - founder of Le Carpaccio Restaurant at the Hotel Royal Monceau - is the latest successful venture between the two friends, dating back to the opening of Carpaccio in 1983.
The concept behind the new restaurant is simple: to use the produce of today to recreate the exciting flavours of the past. Penati is adamant that much of today's produce is not as flavoursome as it once was... so as a chef he has to work hard to recreate the traditional tastes that would have been served up on the tables of his Italian ancestors.
By utilising complex skills and precise cooking techniques - all of which have been painfully researched and perfected over time - the expert chef is able to serve up contemporary Italian cuisine that puts a new twist on the textures and tastes of Italy's rich food heritage...
The result is a light, seemingly simple, but extremely complex cuisine that is bringing a brand new taste of Italy into the city. This cuisine is, in turn, perfectly complemented by the elegant and oh-so-comfortable atmosphere created by Interior Designer Mme Lamia Chamy with a nod to La Dolce Vita - and by the warm welcome of courteous and professionally trained personnel.
Exclusive Q&A with Executive Head Chef Alberico Penati:
Could you briefly explain the vision and ethos behind your food and your menu?
My vision is to create a cuisine reflective of the regions of my native Italy combining the finest traditions of classic Italian cuisine with contemporary creativity - for a real treat of Italian cuisine of the highest rank in Paris. The ethos behind my cuisine is to re-create the exquisite flavours and fragrances of Italy by using the finest and rare ingredients of today, carefully sourced from across the peninsula - culinary greatness cannot be achieved without the intrinsic cult of season and origin of the product.
My seasonal menu, with a cover inspired by one of four seasons allegory (summer) of a great Renaissance artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo - takes the discerning client on a truly and exciting gastronomic tour of the country, from Piedmont to Sicily with dishes created exclusively using prime regional products. A" first class" journey to discover or re-discover Italy's richly diverse culinary regions, complemented by a wine list paying homage to the best wine producing regions, offering grand crus and wines from the finest and most respected wine houses.
What inspires your cooking and your creativity?
As with all things hand-made, good cooking requires passion, craft and commitment. The Four seasons are my endless source of inspiration. My family's vegetable garden was my first introduction to understanding the relationship between food and nature. Hunting for prime produces, spending time with farmers and sharing values and beliefs, constitute also the inspiring and educational aspects of being a chef.
So many influences helped me to develop my own creativity and have shaped the way I cook. Starting from the chefs I worked with and people I had the honour to cook for within some of the most prestigious establishments in the world, to all the great cook books I studied written by the most famous chefs around the world. Most certainly, my international life experience has given me the privilege to experience many of the greatest chefs' cuisine and the knowledge and emotions gained from it have moulded me into the chef I am today.
What made you want to bring your special brand of Italian cuisine to Paris?
It was a decision which came from the heart and our (Silli and mine) common past in this city. Paris is the capital of gastronomy - however when it comes to gastronomic Italian cuisine, the offer is quite limited. We decided to invest in Paris, with the aim of promoting Italy's gastronomic culture made up of 20 regions with distinctive characteristics and an amazing diversity of cuisines as well as superb, world class produces. There is much more to Italian food culture that many people outside Italy realise.
How have the first ten months at your new restaurant gone?
They are gone by so quickly! We are absolutely delighted and impressed by the response since we opened in April 2014. I believe that Penati al Baretto is establishing itself as the new temple of the Italian gastronomy on the Parisian scene and we will keep working passionately to deliver a supreme experience to our customers/clients.
The restaurant has just been awarded a coveted Michelin Star, could you tell us a bit about what this means to you?
Getting a Michelin Star has never been my main goal since becoming a Chef , I care very much what people think and feel when eating my food... however when you get it it's a unique sign of recognition and indication of how dedicated and committed you are to your craft. This is an absolutely an indescribable feeling. To me the best way to look at it is not to get too carried away by it but to stay focused on making the most of yourself everyday... If you do not work to improve yourself every day then you are wasting your life.
Now that your work and dedication towards Italian gastronomy has been recognised at the highest level, what are your future ambitions for the restaurant?
Indeed, it is a huge achievement after just 10 months of opening... our future ambitions are to go higher and higher, keeping strong our identity.
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