StyleNest took 5 minutes to catch up with Fabio Ciervo, Michelin-starred executive chef at the Dorchester Collection’s Hotel Eden, Rome, to find out how nutrition and wellness influences his cooking, his tips for creating great food at home, and where to visit when in Rome.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you came to be where you are today, and what inspired you to follow a career in gastronomy?
I always knew I wanted to be a chef. I was determined to succeed and studied very hard to get to where I am now. The passion that I have for gastronomy inspired me to keep on pushing the boundaries and never give up. I believe that it is extremely important to educate people on proper nutrition, and this has encouraged me to put my culinary knowledge to good use.
What is your earliest memory of food, and do you have any dishes from childhood that you still love to eat now?
I have so many good memories of food! I especially remember when my grandfather cooked Annurca apples in the embers of a campfire and the simplicity of eating bread with freshly picked tomatoes. A dish that I still adore today is my mother’s meatballs.
You’ve had an illustrious career, including been awarded a Michelin Star in 2017, only 7 months after the reopening of Dorchester Collection’s Hotel Eden. Any particular career highlights that you can tell us about or any moments that have stood out for you?
I have been very fortunate to work with Michel Roux and Alain Roux, I would definitely count this as a career highlight and one of the best experiences in my entire life.
You have a Master’s degree in nutrition and base your cooking around 5 pillars – innovation, wellness, ingredients, taste and art. Can you tell us a little bit more about the creative process behind your delicious dishes and how you use these inspirations to create your delicious menu?
I am always hungry to learn and I believe studying is mandatory to achieve your goals. It took me 24 years to put together a concrete philosophy of cooking and to understand where I wanted to go. There is so much potential for creativity – in my mind creating means experimenting. Creating a dish on the menu can potentially take up to six months of experimentation.
During the renovation of Hotel Eden you worked closely with the hotel’s architects and designers to create the perfect kitchen. Do you have any kitchen tips for home cooks, perhaps how we can organise our kitchens better, or the one piece of kitchen equipment that you recommend we all have?
I have to say that I love to cook with an induction hob and I also have a blast chiller at home, both pieces of kitchen equipment are very clean and minimise bacteria.
With all of your knowledge and experience, can you share any other secrets with our readers for cooking at home? Maybe tips on something most of us get wrong, or something that you have learnt working in the industry which is also great advice for amateur cooks?
One of my top tips – when you sauté food – is it is important not to let the oil smoke – and even more important to pay attention to quantities (do not forget that it is a fat, even if unsaturated). People tend to forget that even though an ingredient is healthy and rich in vitamin E, it can transform into a real poison when heated.
For entertaining guests at home, how can our readers elevate a meal from every day to something special?
I do not think you can become a chef in one day J, certainly buying a very good book for inspiration can help in creating an excellent meal. If the ingredients are good quality, I find this always helps with how the dish turns out!
Would would be your perfect meal?
The perfect meal for me will respectfully treat each ingredient and showcase them at their best.
How would you spend your perfect day off?
I would like starting my day with some sport, followed by a nice breakfast with my family. I would then like to have lunch in front of the sea and enjoy family time with my children and my girlfriend in the afternoon. Then I would cook dinner for my family, something I love to do, and end my day reading a story to my kids before going to sleep and watching a movie with my girlfriend.
Hotel Eden is located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. What are your travel tips for those visiting Rome, any secret spots you can tell us about?
The Appian Way, named after Appio Claudio, The Appian Highway opened in 312 BC and was used by the Romans to reach the port of Brindisi in the South of Italy. I really enjoy this tour, because it guides through the ancient streets of Rome, including the II century Catacombs of Santa Domitilla, Maxentius’s Circus, the Cecilia Metella Tomb which dates from the Republic period, and the Caracalla Bath, the largest bath in Rome built by the Emperor Caracalla I 212 AD.
Palazzo Valentini, this is the fascinating remains of the patrician “Domus” of imperial Rome. Mosaics, wall decorations, polychrome floors, paving blocks, and other remains, have been enhanced by recreating the past with virtual reconstructions, graphics and videos. It is a great day out, taking a step back into our history and seeing our heritage which has been restored and enhanced with the use of new technologies.
San Clemente, which are three churches which have been constructed one above the other, resting on the remains of earlier Roman ruins. Each of these strata conjures its own historical memory.
What are your other favourite travel destinations and what would you recommend our readers do there?
Definitely the Amalfi coast is amazing and one of my favourite destinations, I also love to visit Naples and seeing the old ruins in Pompeii.
And finally, what is your life motto?
Always being positive, dynamic and optimistic.