‘Culinary a labour of love’

January 18, 2021

Islamabad : Fascinated by food from an impressionable age, Paolo Collavini found himself to be in the right place when it came to choosing a career.To him, culinary is a labour of love.“The...

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Islamabad : Fascinated by food from an impressionable age, Paolo Collavini found himself to be in the right place when it came to choosing a career.

To him, culinary is a labour of love.

“The aroma, texture, and taste of food mesmerised me at a young age,” the head chef at the Italian speciality cuisine restaurant, Zigolini, in Islamabad Marriott Hotel told 'The News'.

Hailing from Italy, Paolo has worked across five continents in 30 countries and possesses over 40 years of professional culinary experience.

About his breakthrough in the field of hospitality, he said his entire family inspired him to become a chef.

“I love cooking for them and eating together as a family and I was often found in the kitchen baking bread and making pasta with my Nonna and Mamma,” he said.

Paolo pursued his lifetime passion as a full-time career.

“I had a desire to explore and discover the world, and I landed a job on a cruise ship as an Italian chef which gave me a chance to interact with the people of different cultures and countries. This gave me an adrenaline rush and from that point on, I became an international Italian chef,” he said.

Paolo attended an Italian hospitality school in Northern Italy and trained for two years, which helped him enrol with a cooking organisation. The first hotel he ever worked at was Kurofune Hotel, Shimoda, Japan.

Seeming rather pleased to be where he is, Paolo said: “Pakistani people are full of humility and passion and, simultaneously, are very cultured.”

About landing here, he said when he was told about a job opening in Pakistan, he was slightly hesitant but the first day when he walked into the hotel lobby, he instantly felt content.

Listing the key considerations for crafting his menu, he underscored that the most important thing to keep in mind is seasonality and healthy eating.

“I love to cook with seasonal ingredients and as they are fresh and better and healthier for the body,” he added.

While serving at Zigolini, which offers an authentic taste of Italy to food lovers in Islamabad, Paolo pointed out that his personal preferences are reflected in his menu, though he ensures there is something on the menu for everyone. “Of course, I love to share my favourites with my customers, but it’s also important to have a variety of items on the menu so guests may feel like there is always something they are excited to order,” he pointed out.

How does Paolo, 50, manage his young staff at the restaurant? “I am currently working with a staff that is 20-30 years younger than me and I always try time to understand them first. Like I try to understand my 26-year-old daughter, then I push them to do what I expect them to do.”

Being an international Italian chef comes with its share of ethical responsibility for Paolo, who said he won’t compromise on the products that didn’t reflect the traditional Italian heritage and style. For an expert of Italian cuisine, it is interesting to know about his own comfort food.

“Sushi, I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” he said. “My absolute favourite ingredient to cook with is extra virgin olive oil, you can always find it in my kitchen. Also, I love cooking with seasonal ingredients.”

Any special dish he would recommend guests to try at Zigolini is Eggplant Timbale Parmigiana. “The cheeses combined with the pasta, sausage and eggplant taste rich and delicious.”

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