Robert Fontana, the Master Chef of French Fine Cuisine
Reminding about his arrival in China, Chef Fontana refers us that nobody knew what foie gras was. Robert was one of the first chefs to spread it together with French Fine Cuisine
“7 a.m., nobody in my kitchen, one slice of pan-fried foie gras, one piece of sourdough bread, one Fabbri Amarena cherry on the dough and one glass of Croze - Hermitage…”, this is the best culinary moment for Robert Fontana, the Chief Executive Chef at City Super in Hong Kong as well as Chairman of Disciples Escoffier Asia. Patient, good listener, passionate about food, as he describes himself, Chef Fontana has been for more than 35 years one of the best representatives of French fine cuisine in all its forms. Among his several successful experiences, such as the nomination of “Master Chef of France” in 1988, the commitment in the “Fortune 500 Global Forum” in 1999 in Shanghai is considered by Robert the most significant career event of his life. At the event, there were 1500 VIP guests for three days and, as quoted by the Chef: “It was a nightmare and paradise at the same time!”. After being formed to the French Fine Cuisine and awarded with Michelin Stars and other important prizes for some of his French culinary adventures, in 1998 new opportunities arise for Chef Fontana so that he moved to Shanghai to set up the French Cuisine Department in “Peace Hotel”, one of the most famous hotels of the world. This is the occasion for Robert to make his dream come true. Since young, indeed, he has always expressed his desire and willingness of working in China, even though China was not the famous and renowned country it is today, “When I was telling people I wanted to work in China, they thought I was nuts…”.
Reminding about his arrival in China, Chef Fontana refers us that nobody knew what foie gras was. Robert was one of the first chefs to spread it together with French Fine Cuisine - “I discovered Chinese people really like foie gras!” -. Precisely speaking about food, Chef Fontana reports: “Foreigners are usually influenced by the perception of Chinese Cuisine they have in their countries…they like sweet and sour pork, dim sum, spring roll.” However, Chinese culinary tradition is not so narrow - “Chinese cuisine is various and different from area to area. Travelling around China, I tasted a lot of dishes” - He adds: “When I came to China for the first time, the General Manager of Peace Hotel told me that in the world there are two sophisticated cuisines, the Chinese and the French one. I can only agree with that affirmation!”. On the other hand, about Italian cuisine, he reports: “For me, Italian Cuisine is based on products with a short and simple preparation but good results…what is simpler than a Pizza Margherita?”
Speaking about Fabbri, Chef Fontana tells us his first memories go back to his childhood and are strictly connected to our Amarena: “I remember…10 years old, one gelato and two Amarena cherries on the top!”. Since then, he seems to never have forgotten Amarena: “Amarena is so good! Sweaty, tasty, a little bit bitter!”. Concerning its combination, Chef Robert reports how Amarena could be a perfect balance ingredient between sweet and sour: “I usually promote Amarena cherries with strong cheeses or as integration in some gelato desserts!”. Asking about a specific recipe with Amarena, he says: “Blue cheese, Virginian Ham, Napoleon and Amarena Fabbri.” Finally, thinking about a cocktail with Amarena, he suggests: “Amarena is perfect with champagne!”