Vladimiro Gadioli stumbled into Italian cuisine at a tender age. He became familiar with the essentials of Italian gastronomy behind the stoves of his family’s hotel before making it his profession. We journeyed to Dubai and the kitchens at Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach to uncover the secrets of tasty and contemporary cuisine.
In Italy, cooking is often a family affair. For you, this is even truer since you grew up immersed in this profession…
Yes, I am from Borno, a small city between Italy and Switzerland where my family owns a hotel. I grew up literally immersed in this profession because I started interacting with customers from the age of seven or eight. First, I learnt to be a waiter serving customers in the dining room, and then I started helping my mother in the kitchen. Afterwards we hired a chef and I learnt a lot working with him. My experience is really one of home cooking and authentic flavors. That’s the kind of cooking I like.
What dish makes your mouth water most?
Agnolotti, a type of easily recognizable, pillow-shaped stuffed pasta typical of the Piedmont region. All the art is in the way the dough is stuffed and rolled out. At Plantation, we offer this dish on the menu and the options will be changing depending on the season, for example stuffed with seafood, vegetables or a spinach-ricotta mix, which is very popular.
In your career as a chef, which experiences did you learn the most from?
I was lucky to work in the Albereta, a restaurant on the outskirts of Brescia, with Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, who was a real mentor for me. It was just for one season, but it represented a huge leap in my career. My first lasting collaboration was at the NH Hotel in Milan, where I worked for five years. Lastly, I was lucky to get a job abroad with the Hyatt Regency in Delhi. I was responsible for La Piazza, a 170-seat trattoria, with, as always, a home cooking spirit.
How did you adapt to India, which is such a different country and not just in terms of gastronomy?
I certainly discovered a different way of life and I also had to learn English very quickly. I am grateful to my colleagues for giving me a helping hand… Food customs are also very different. I adapted my cuisine by creating dishes that were spicier or had more garlic in them, while preserving the fundamentals of Italian gastronomy, because it was also vital to please the European guests. With this cuisine, La Piazza won the Times of India’s “Best Italian Restaurant” award three times (NDLR de 2007 à 2009).
Today you run the culinary team at the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach. How did this move come about?
It happened in several stages because first I joined the Jumeirah group in Dubai at the head of an Italian restaurant with the objective of expressing my creativity to serve international customers. A year later, I had the opportunity to take part in the creation of an establishment in Abu Dhabi. It was a fascinating challenge because it entailed recruiting and training personnel, defining menus and organizing purchases so we could be ready to open on the weekend of the F1 Grand Prix. In 2011, I returned to Dubai to the Rococo to give the chef new ideas based on a more elegant cuisine in keeping with Michelin standards, before becoming the chef myself.
Could your leitmotif be “flavors first!”?
Yes, because those are my roots in cooking. My aim is to offer excellent quality products. We use local products such as fish and lobster, but we also import a lot of ingredients from Europe and Asia. However, taste isn’t everything. Contemporary Italian cuisine requires technique to transform the products and that is something that evolves every day. The food in the plate must also be pleasing to the eye. I have become even more concerned about this aspect since I discovered photography two years ago when my daughter was born. It’s another of my passions and it requires the same attention to detail.