Chef Luciano Parolari, otherwise known as “The King of Risotto” throughout Italy, is a master of risotto – seafood, shellfish, fresh vegetable, seasonal and even poultry and meat risottos. So much so that he has written a book, “Tales of Risotto,” that answers every question you might ever ask about risotto, from tips for the beginner, to the favorite risottos of many of the hotel’s celebrity guests, such as Madonna and Elton John. He has been at Villa d’Este since l967.
Chef Luciano has been kind enough to answer some questions for The Gourmet Review.
Q What is the most interesting meal you have ever cooked professionally and for whom?
I had the privilege of cooking for Pope John Paul II when he visited the city of Como and he specifically asked for a risotto.
(By the way, the risotto with spring vegetables is not only the favorite of Luciano himself, but was the risotto prepared for the Pope in 1996 when the Pope came to Como for three days. The Pope was the guest of the archbishop, who requested Chef Pavaroli prepare all of the Pope’s meals. The recipe will follow on the blog.)
Q Where do you get most of your ingredients?
All the ingredients we use in our kitchens are of the best quality and are ordered from the best producers. Seafood comes from Venice and is delivered every day in order to always have fresh seafood. As far as herbs are concerned, we do have a Chef’s garden on the premises, so that we always have fresh herbs.
Q What is the process you go through to get new recipes on the menu for the restaurant?
One of the things I like to do is to combine the different ingredients, the herbs we grow in our Chef’s gardens, with the help of long experience in the kitchens and taste the outcome.
Q What is your favorite food you cook at home?
Very simple: spaghetti with extra virgin olive oil and garlic.
Q If you could share one secret for young chefs, what would it be?
Use only the best quality products.
Q How much time do you spend creating dishes?
Half of the time I spend in the kitchen.
Q Do you have some secret ingredient combinations that you use on a variety of dishes that might be thought of as your signature spice?
Q What is the most interesting or unusual food/meal request you’ve ever had?
Q What is your personal favorite dish on the menu?
I do not have a favorite dish, because all the dishes on our card (menu) have been personally selected by myself together with my assistants!
Since several of my favorite risottos recipes created by Chef Luciano will be featured on the blog , I would like to share several of the chef’s tips that must be followed for a successful risotto!
1. Do not overcook the rice – the total cooking time should not exceed 20 minutes
2. Do not wash the rice before cooking – the starch is what makes the risotto creamy.
3. Maintain a constant cooking temperature by keeping the stock at a bare simmer as you cook the risott
- The Gourmet Review