By Xiao Gao | 2012-12-7 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
CHEF Andrea Zorcolo describes his personal style as "international fusion with Italian taste."
That's what he brings to his new job as executive chef at Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World. The 40-year-old Italian overseas four different concept restaurants, from Western to international fusion, and has a strategy to enhance the hotel's dining image.
He taps his experience from Latin America, South Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
"My strategy is creating freshness, newness in culinary style and unique presentation," says Zorcolo. "I will target locals with my way of cooking through presenting things they love and appreciate."
Learning about Chinese cuisine and the Chinese palate is his major reason for coming to Shanghai.
"I always have appreciated Chinese cuisine," he says. "After working in various countries, I am looking forward to working in the world's second-largest economy and seeing the culinary growth here."
Born in Italy, Zorcolo studied Italian cooking and began his career as a junior chef at an Italian hotel. He went on to work for restaurants and hotels in the UK, Mexico, South America, South Africa, the Caribbean and Maldives. Before coming to China, he managed kitchens in five-star hotels in Oman and Jordan.
In the Italian tradition, he has always pursued the freshest of ingredients.
His experience in Mexico and South Africa inspired his thinking about food.
"Mexico is a place where people honestly admire food and always seek something new and different," he says. "Since working in South Africa, I start respecting food more and more because of the situation (famine)."
Some of his signature dishes express cultural hybrid harmony, such as fresh scallops on a bed of mint and spinach puree, finished with red orange clementine sauce and tomato jalapeno reduction.
He's good at improvising.
"When I cook for myself at home, I just open the fridge and see what is available. Then I create something special," Zorcolo says.
The newly appointed chef since January this year spends most of his time in his hotel. It's fine-dining restaurant Epicure on 45 on the 45th floor has become his favorite spot in the city.
On Christmas Eve, it offers a five-course Western set menu, which costs 898 yuan (US$144) plus 15 percent service charge per person. A children's choir will perform.
"The restaurant has an amazing view, and so does my menu," he says.
Q: What's your food philosophy?
A: Passion and love.
Q: Your most amazing cooking experience?
A: Cooking for Pope Benedetto (XVI) and the cardinal in Jordan. It was divine.
Q: The biggest challenge?
A: Every day is a challenge and I overcome it. Cooking for vegetarians is really a challenge.
Q: Your most embarrassing kitchen moment?
A: I was kissing a lady in the cold room when the chef entered. I was 15.