“Simplicity is the last refuge of the complicated souls”. So Oscar Wilde wrote and the maximum is perfectly suited to the chef Andrea Serravezza, only one of Puglia to be on the podium, in third place in 2012, at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition, attended by the best chefs in the world. In fact at the quote he says, “It’s fitted like a glove to me, indeed like a bean!”. During the encounter the gala dinner at Tenuta Monacelli, one of the sixteen farms belonged to the important Abbey of Cerrate, recovered and can be visited today thanks to the FAI. The farm, instead, has been tastefully renovated by Piccinni family, of which we were guests.
Before the dinner, reserved for 130 guests who have tested the quality and sophistication, not only the preparations but also the service and hospitality of the Tenuta Monacelli for which the Serravezza chef will take care of banqueting and signed the menu for special occasions, Andrea allows us more than one hour of pleasant conversation. It’s his first time here in the kitchens of the estate, but the unique experience, both from a human and professionally to the Bocuse d’Or, has taught him that a chef must not only be good at cooking, but it has become particularly a recognized leader by his team so that everything works perfectly. And he’s here with us, relaxed and friendly, because his work in the kitchen, preparing and togetherness, has already started. And this will be evident throughout the evening in which, both in the kitchen and in the hall, reigned the purest harmony. An outstanding achievement if we think that Andrea knew his collaborators just and with this team had never worked before.
I ask the chef when he discovered his “sacred fire” in the kitchen and he answered me by telling an episode of his childhood. “My mother tells me that in three or four years I closed my younger brother in the kitchen cabinets and splitted in his head eggs! My fate seemed already marked, so I attended the hotel management school in Otranto, then I wanted to gain experience elsewhere: the Etoile where I worked with some of the best chefs in the world and for the Boscolo Hotel chain, and participation in the in prestigious competitions such as the Internazionali of Massa Carrara in 2004 and 2007”.
Then he speaks to me of his attachment to the Salento territory and all it has to offer from the point of view of raw materials that never fail in his preparations in which the typical product is transformed in order to be better appreciated in international contexts or valuable as dinners and weddings. His bet now abundantly won, it is to ensure the victory to the table the local product in dishes in which both well presented and transformed according to the season and traditions.
According to these principles he has drawn up the menu of the evening at the Tenuta Monacelli with initial finger food, made from barley frisella crumbled with Mediterranean aromas and delicate tidbits of cream cheese, paired with a flute of prosecco. Sit down to the elegant tables make ready in the evocative underground hall obtained from the ancient underground oil mill we then were able to enjoy the starter based on cardoncelli mushrooms on a fragrant base and flavors of the Mediterranean, followed by two first dishes. The first proposal has seen starring a spelled cake and seasonal vegetables on a smooth compact curd topped with product home oil from olives harvested in the countryside around the estate. By Cantine Tenuta Monacelli, however, the deep red wine Cardinale, aged in small oak barrels, which accompanied all the dishes with its notes of berries and tannic and persistent background. In the second preparation leading actresses were orecchiette with buckwheat topped with veal ragout with fragrant touch of crispy fried squid on a pesto base with basil: a concentration of taste, made fresh by herb leaves and with a perfect balance between the different textures of strascinate and shellfish petals. A particular combination to the main dish: a supreme grouper, only foreign element to the territory, stewed shrimp and winter tomato lying on a large semolina gnocchi with aromatic herbs. As the chef explained, more than a meeting between the sacred and the profane, the expression of a combination of wealth and poverty in which the semolina, reserved for the elderly and children, is ennobled by the combination of a valuable fish such as grouper. For dessert the chef Serravezza has given way to the master pastry chef Antonio Campeggio which proposed a delicate and exquisite soft biscuit cakes withe Celline olives “Olivotto”, aloe vera cream and salad of strawberries.
At the time to say goodbay Andrea sincerely confessed us that after being appreciated both nationally and internationally, we would hold to become “prophet in his homeland” by opening a restaurant of his own in Salento: a place to go to eat genuine, with an eye to tradition and the other to the aesthetics of the dish, with a proper cellar, but above all with a fair price to come back more often without worrying about the portfolio but only of his own taste satisfaction! Well chef we of Città Meridiane expect from you news about!
Tenuta Monacelli & Masseria Giampaolo
Via Giacomo Monticelli – Località Cerrate (Lecce)
Info: +39 0832 382037 – +39 329 7571343 – email@example.com