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Enzo Carbone, the ambassador of the Italian cuisine in China

Enzo Carbone, the ambassador of the Italian cuisine in China

“Radiant, spontaneous, sincere, real but especially meticulous and determined”, that is how Enzo Carbone, one of the ambassador chef of the Italian culinary art in the world describes himself. And these are also the features which reflect more his culinary philosophy, we can be defined by two adjectives, innovative but simple. 

He himself reports: “Creativity is embedded in simplicity, the most  innovative techniques born out from a passion for maintaining the integrity of ingredients. Therefore, one of the more significant ability of a chef is combining the simplest ingredients in a certain way they can result in the most creative dish”. Born into a family of chefs and owners of a trattoria in Naples, Italy, Chef Enzo was well versed in family style and traditional Italian cooking by the tender age of 14. After the formation in the famous Circolo della Stampa restaurant in Naples, he studied hotel management in schools in Italy and Switzerland, where he graduated with a major in Culinary and Hotel Management.

Chef  Enzo travelled in UK, New Zealand, Oman, to finally arrive in Shanghai in 2000. At our question of the motivations which brought him to China, he answers: “While I was working in the international company Hyatt, they proposed me to come to Shanghai to open Cucina into the Grand Hyatt Shanghai on the top of the prestigious Jinmao Tower. I immediately saw the proposal as a real big opportunity for my career and as a wonderful experience to catch, especially 12 years ago when Shanghai was starting to face the economic boom. Today I can say that was the right and optimum decision for me”. And we can also admit it is true. Indeed, once started with this experience, Chef Enzo never stops. After receiving in 2005 the Ambassador of the Culinary Arts award in Italy, the following year he joined the Salvatore Cuomo Group as Corporate Executive Chef and Managing Director for the Asian Pacific area. Under Enzo’s management, the group opened multiple restaurants in Korea, China, Japan, Singapore including The Kitchen in Shanghai.

Three years ago he decided to open his own business. Besides two restaurants in Istanbul, one in Suzhou, one in Wuxi, in May 2010 he opened 208 Duecento Otto in the buzzing neighborhood of Honk Kong, to which follows in 2012 the opening of MATTO Bar&Pizzeria and, not least, Capo Shanghai Restaurant. 

Talking about these goals reached in his career, Chef Enzo describes: “There is not a particular goal or success that I reached. Any time I reached an objective I think immediately to the successive one. It’s a way to make my life more exciting. Overcoming yourself and the point you arrive it is a secret not to get old and living life with emotion”. In particular, regarding the experience in China: “It is a wonderful experience which gives me an extra oomph. Arriving in Shanghai was for me a rel fortune. Since then, I have always had the opportunity to work in the right place and to meet the right people with whom to cooperate.” Chef Enzo is very satisfied by the Chinese experience, he loves Chinese culture, Chinese people and he demonstrates this when he mentiones that the real compensation for him is when, at the end of an event or a simple dinner, he knows to have performed a good teamwork.  Moreover, he loves Chinese food: “noodles and dumplings are my favorite Chinese dishes event though I like to taste all the Chinese cuisine”.

 On the other hand, switching the discussion on the Italian food:

I: “Talking now about Italian culinary tradition in China, which are the dishes Chinese people love more?

E.C.: “Chinese people love simplicity. They generally like all the Italian dishes but what they like more are the simple dishes ever. The importance is to present them with criterion and creativity”

I: “To this end, which is the Italian dish you can affirm to cook best and the Italian culinary traditions you never abandon and bring always with you, even in China? Which are the ingredients never miss in your cuisine?”

E.C.: “As a real Naples son, the dishes always present in my restaurants are pasta and pizza. Pizza and pasta are the symbols of Italian culinary culture and especially of my tradition, my family, my life. Therefore, the ingredients never miss in my cuisine are Italian tomatoes, basil, parmesan and chilly pepper!”

The relationship between Chef Carbone and Fabbri 1905 started long time ago: “It was about 14 years ago when I had the opportunity to meet Nicola Fabbri and with him all the Fabbri world. It was in occasion of an exhibition in Turin, in Italy, and I remembered to have been immediately attracted by the energy and the spirit of Nicola and of the whole Fabbri world.” Entering in details, we asked him what he thinks about Amarena Fabbri and how he usually proposes it to his clients. “Since the first time I met Fabbri 1905, I have always used Amarena as garnishes of my sweets. Culis, cannoli, I can combine every kind of sweet with Amarena Fabbri and I would always like to specify in my menu to use the unique Amarena Fabbri” He  also addes: “The best way of expressing Amarena Fabbri is the simplest way possible. Just proposing Amarena Fabbri alone can capture the taste of everyone.”

I.: “ Can you tell us your best recipe with Amarena?”

E.C.: “My best recipe with Amarena is also the one I always propose in my restaurant since many years, the  Zeppola of San Giuseppe garnished with Amarena Fabbri. It is a sweet from Naples composed by a pastry filled with custard and finally garnished on the top with Amarena Fabbri!”

I.: “What do you tell us about a salt recipe with Amarena?”

E.C. “I tell you the truth. I do not have still tried Amarena in salty recipes but I am thinking about which could be the best combination possible! By the way, I always use Amarena Fabbri in my café”

I.: “Precisely speaking about this point, how do you propose Amarena Fabbri in cocktails?”

E.C.: “I usually propose Amarena with my personal cocktail Capo, made with a particular liquor and Amarena Fabbri inside. Moreover, I offer Amarena Fabbri with Franciacorta wine.”

Amarena Fabbri is for Chef Carbone an ingredient representing his friendship with Fabbri company and a sign of complicity. He used to collect Amarena jars, which he then proudly show to his friends and clients every time he has the opportunity. Asking finally Chef Enzo which are the other Fabbri products present in his cuisine, he answers “Pistachio and syrups are the other Fabbri distinctive signs in my restaurants!”