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Massimiliano Alajmo Interview:
Love Italian Life Profile
Name: Massimiliano Alajmo
Place of birth: Padua, Italy
Restaurant: Le Calandre
Meet chef Massimiliano Alajmo who is the youngest chef in history to have been awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. Max has the restaurant industry in his blood where he started learning about food by cooking in the kitchen of Le Calandre with his mamma Rita from an early age. He developed his craft at the top cooking school Istituto Alberghiero di Abano Terme and then went on to work with top Italian and French chefs including Alfredo Chiocchetti, Michel Guérard and Marc Veyrat.
Now together with his brother Raffaele, Max oversees the kitchens of the Alajmo family’s three restaurants, three café-bistros, and various line of food products – all of which stem from from his vibrant culinary laboratory Le Calandre,
Max Alajmo and Le Calandre were nominated for 3 award categories at the Love Italian Life Awards 2018 Ceremony:
1. The Best Contemporary Italian Restaurant in Veneto
2. The Best Contemporary Italian Restaurant in Italy
3. The Best Italian Chef in Europe
Here is the exclusive interview between Love Italian Life and Max:
Love Italian Life:What are the ingredients that make an Italian restaurant truly contemporary in the Italy of today?
Max Alajmo:I believe contemporary Italian cuisine is based on following concepts: intention, consistency, character, style and authenticity. Some of these concepts, like authenticity, have been overused and possibly lost some of their strength, but being truly authentic to yourself and culinary style is not to be taken for granted.
Love Italian Life: What exactly inspired Max Alajmo to be passionate about food and become a chef?
Max Alajmo:I have been cooking since the moment my mother, mamma Rita, gave me my first handful of flour. She was the head chef of Le Calandre at the time and I would come to visit her every day after school. I would help as best I could, rolling out cookie dough or stirring a pot of risotto. I have such a vivid memory of being in the kitchen at that age. I was as tall as the bottom of the chefs’ jackets and my dream in life was to one day have a clean, white, perfectly-pressed jacket of my own. My memories of that time deeply influence my cooking still today.
“We thought about and curated every detail to make dining at Le Calandre a truly multi-sensory experience”.
Love Italian Life:What do you think it is about Italian food that has such an enduring appeal?
Max Alajmo:Sunshine and conviviality. Italian cuisine has received so much over the years that it has plenty to give.
Love Italian Life:In your opinion what are the store-cupboard essentials that all great Italian chefs should make sure they have in their kitchen?
Max Alajmo: I would say having great extra virgin olive oil on hand is key. And, of course, a quality dried pasta, rice, garlic, dried chilli pepper. But so much of Italian cuisine, or rather regional Italian cuisines, are based on great fresh ingredients. The Italian food-scape is so rich and varied that no matter where you go, you are certain to discover something wonderful to eat.
Love Italian Life:What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of coming into the industry as a chef?
Max Alajmo:Turn off the television. No joke. The restaurant world is made of hard work, long hours and dedication. Most of what is shown on tv, cooking competitions especially, make cooking seem glamorous and relatively easy. That is not the case.
“The real pleasure of the table is sharing food with friends and family”.
Love Italian Life:What advice can you share with consumers wanting to cook traditional Italian food but are worried about how it will turn out?
Max Alajmo:Many great dishes in the history of cuisine are the result of mistakes. My advice would be to worry less. The real pleasure of the table is sharing food with friends and family.
Love Italian Life: For anyone who hasn’t eaten in Ristorante Le Calandre before, how would you sum up the dining experience?
Max Alajmo:Le Calandre is precisely the type of restaurant that my brother Raffaele and I enjoy dining in most: curated, yet informal. In early 2010, we remodelled the dining room so that it would be an extension of the kitchen. We selected all of the design elements as if they were ingredients used to compose a dish. Everything from the tables to the wine glasses to the waiter’s uniforms were hand-crafted by Italian artisans. We removed the tablecloth exposing the wooden tables made from a single 150-year-old tree, encouraging guests to run their hands along the wood. We thought about and curated every detail to make dining at Le Calandre a truly multi-sensory experience.