Cape Town - An 18-hour day, “very little sleep” and being surrounded by food all the time is what it takes to become chef extraordinaire.
At least this is the recipe which chef Giorgio Nava lives by.
At the weekend, Nava was crowned world pasta champion. An Italian chef based in Cape Town, Nava beat 23 cooks to win the World Pasta Championship at the Barilla Food Academy in the Italian city of Parma.
He achieved this feat with a recession-inspired recipe using broccoli and oregano flowers.
Most of the time, Nava is found at the award-winning 95 Keerom, one of four eateries he juggles in a daily routine as the owner.
The secret to his success, he says, is “very little sleep” and being a hands-on restaurateur. It’s not easy, but he doesn’t mind because he’s doing what he loves.
“I work 18 hours a day for seven days. Plus I have very good staff and without them I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I can be a good chef but you need good people to back you up, and I have those people,” he told the Cape Times telephonically from Parma.
His crowning in his home country was “a proud moment”, he said, adding: “This is a big achievement for me because I was competing with high-level professionals with great talent.”
Participants were given 40 minutes to complete their dish in the first round of the championship on Friday and only 30 minutes in the final on Saturday.
He made the Cavatelli Puglia style with broccoli velvet sauce and oregano flowers, a dish which Nava said anyone could make at home, to win over judges and public vote at the competition.
“It is something I serve to my customers from time to time. They love it very much. With the economy… as it is, I go out of my way to use ingredients that are not expensive. I love food. It has always been my passion. Being Italian, food is part of our culture. Throughout my life I have always been surrounded by food.”
Last year, Italy’s World Pasta Championship was won by a Japanese chef, Yoshi Yamada. Nava was the runner-up.
Nava was born in Milan and arrived in South Africa just over a decade ago. He did not have formal culinary training but learnt through working with other chefs.
He has won awards for his work at the restaurants 95 Keerom and Carne SA, the latter most recently named among the best steakhouses in the country.
Also under Nava’s ownership is Kloof Street’s trendy Caffe Milano and The Mozzarella Bar, also in Kloof Street. He returns to the country this coming weekend with plans to take part in another competition in Brazil in September. - Cape Times