Originally from the Italian medieval city of Barletta, Chef Luca Mascolo brings with him knowledge of traditional Italian cooking techniques and dishes which have melded together with what he has learnt through intensive experience working in Michelin starred restaurants, and luxury resorts. The result is a dining experience that's out of this world and one that diners will be sure to remember.
Chef Luca does not only have deep culinary knowledge - he also has passion in music and people which gives him a very unique holistic artistic approach to everything he does, and is very apparent as soon as the first of his dishes arrives on your table at Amanpuri's 'Arva' Italian fine dining restaurant.
What's the most important factor in being a successful chef ?
I already knew when I was eight-years-old that I wanted to become a chef. I think this helped me to become focused on my goals earlier than most people. I am a determined person, so I worked hard to get to where I am now, sacrificing private time, which I did not mind as I have always loved what I do. Staying humble is very important for me as I believe that you always keep learning and improving all the time. A successful chef should respect and motivate his team that sticks together and strives to always keep growing.
What makes your food unique?
I like a good atmosphere in the kitchen, working with serenity. I believe that you can taste the passion that the food was made with. I also love details. When I look at a plate, it all has to make sense in its presentation, but of course, most importantly by its taste. I love to combine unexpected flavours together that work surprisingly well. For me, food is memory. It creates unforgettable moments. Therefore, I share my favourite memories by choosing certain ingredients, flavours and presentations to create a sensory experience. I am satisfied when a plate of my food makes the guests happy.
What is the difference between classical Italian preparation and more modern Italian cuisine?
In order to move forward, we need to have knowledge of the past. That is why Italian cuisine is the root of the contemporary iteration. I present my dishes to guests as a tradition and innovation by playing with the colours, textures and flavours, but still respecting the ingredients. For me, there is no separation as the tradition needs the elevation of innovation so they are always connected. Time is constantly changing, and that is what keeps it interesting. We should always embrace evolving techniques and use them to make the perfect dish.
Should chefs adapt or adjust their cooking according to a hotel they work for? - Do you have to adapt your own cooking to each place you work for? If so, how?
A chef should bring their own style, but they have to adapt to the workplace too. First of all, one would need to analyse the environment of the location to understand the culture, the food, and the market demand.
I make use of some local flavours as this makes the menu more unique and interesting. I only work for hotels that I believe in. I am grateful and feel at home at Aman as it is a beautiful environment to work in and they allow me to express my culinary skills so I am able to deliver the highest quality ingredients.
When it comes to working with people in a certain environment, you always have to adjust a little to make it work smoothly. Like here in Amanpuri, the culture in the kitchen is quite different from the Western approach. Thai people are much more polite and need a more gentle approach. It is something I actually appreciate as I always strive for a harmonious kitchen.
What's your advice for those who want to become a successful chef? Where should they start?
Set your goals and start from the bottom to learn and create a strong foundation. Stay patient and select the places that you want to work for, that will give you the right experiences.
Keep in mind that you create your own style from all the knowledge that you would have collected over the years from working in different places. Food is happiness and you should never forget that you have already reached success when you love what you do.