David Tamburini is an Italian who is currently making his mark in Bangkok at the Sukhothai Hotel’s La Scala Italian restaurant – recently listed by Thailand Tatler magazine and Bangkok 101 as one of Thailand’s very best. David was born in Tuscany in 1973 and was inspired to start cooking through his love of vegetarian cuisine. His skills were developed through working under the guidance of a number of fine Italian chefs, such as Pietro Leemann of Joia restaurant in Milan and Paolo Lopriore at Il Canto della Certosa di Maggiano in Siena. His eagerness to learn eventually brought him a Michelin star as chef at Ristorante Casa Grugno in Taormina, Sicily in 2011.
Further awards followed, before David had the opportunity indulge his interest in Asia by moving to Hong Kong, where he began to develop an understanding for the tastes of the Asian market. Now in Thailand, David kindly talked to Hotelintel.co to explain his unique style and the secrets behind his art.
What is your favorite thing about being a chef?
There isn’t really a particular favourite thing in being a chef – it’s just something I’ve grown up with, and it’s what suits me best. Of course, I love being in the kitchen. That’s a must. I also love ingredients and being behind a stove with my team.
Every chef has his own way of living this profession, but for me, food has always been a way to express myself, so in this way my cuisine is unique. I like to give my vision to the classic Italian recipes. I believe in an apparent simplicity, elegance, and beauty.
What makes your menu different?
We try to redefine regional tastes by celebrating the past and the present of Italian cuisine, so from my culinary exploration we build on the foundations of Italian cuisine. It’s a combination of the country’s classic and modern offerings as they are presently being served in the modern kitchens of Italy.
Do special tools, equipment, or techniques matter to your cooking? If so, can you tell us what they are and how they are incorporated into your cooking?
Not really. I'm pretty much an old school guy who likes working with low technology. I believe in “the fire” – the little things that happen in the heat of the moment. If anything, I think that a little bit of imperfection is something vital in a recipe. Italian cuisine is simple, made of ingredients, insight, and beauty, so that’s why I believe in simplicity, even before technique.
What are the main challenges for chefs these days and how do you overcome them? How do you keep up with your competitors?
The challenges haven’t changed much over time, so they’re not much different than before. Being a chef has never been an easy job, although nowadays for sure you have to be more sociable and more “politically correct”. To be honest I have never seen my fellow chefs as competitors so I don’t really mind too much about what they are doing. I'm much more focused on following my own way, doing my research and defining my own style as much as I can. From a business perspective, however, I do believe that uniqueness is a crucial factor.
Finally, what CSR initiatives do you have in your kitchen?
Our latest CSR was “Magic Box Project - Season 2” where we collaborated in a campaign with Baan Mahamek - Home for Boys, by offering 40 underprivileged boys a box containing their dream gift for Christmas. As part of the activity we went to Baan Mahamek and cooked dinner for the boys, with all recipes created by our chef team. I served lasagna, spinach dough, pork ragu and béchamel to the boys on that day, giving them a change to try western food and also experience a new dish for the first time as none of them had ever had the chance to try lasagna before.