Today We meet Claudio Melis, Executive Chef of Alta Badia Restaurant in Dubai, that will answer questions from our editorial staff and some of our food bloggers.

1) What started your passion for food?

It was back in 1990 when I went for dinner at Gualtiero Marchesi Ristorante, the first Italian restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. The dishes were simple and extremely well presented, made with a maximum of two or three ingredients to create a product at its best. It was a blast to taste a classic Italian dish, served in such a modern way. Some of his dishes are still the same after 25 years.

2) If you were to take a foreign friend to Italy for the first time which national dish would you suggest for him? 

My mother’s potato, saffron and mint ravioli, it’s the best dish ever. My mother wakes up at 5am to start to making the ravioli, then cooks a specific kind of local potato, they are very sweet and tasty. The saffron is taken directly from our garden. All the ingredients are ‘farm to table’ and the result on the palate is just unbelievable.

3) What do you think could be done to help in “fighting” the Italian sounding phenomenon? 

A proper regulation to save our products from the mystification from our government would help. From the chef’s side, in Italy and around the world, be mindful and avoid anything that is not clearly made in Italy.

4) What do you think about Vegan Cuisine? Is it a trend or reality? (Chiedilo alla Dani)

In the past I worked in the only Italian vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Joya and I know the matter very well. On the one side, being vegan is a reality, especially with all the mystification and the way how the animals are treated and slaughtered but on the other, a bit of a trend has developed for sure.

5) In your opinion, what is an amazing match for some mountain cheese? (Mistofrigo)

A very rare Bagoss cheese from Bagolino, matched with an apricot and passion fruit compote is simply amazing for contrast, acidity and texture.

6) What is your secret to making the perfect focaccia bread? (Fuss Free Cooking Blog)

Add boiled and mashed potatoes to the recipe because once cooked, it keeps the focaccia crispy outside and soft inside, just how it should be. It’s very important as well use the right flour, the 00 is always good.

7) Could the Mediterranean diet extend our life? (Chiedilo alla Dani)

It has been said that eating large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil can reduce the risk of some diseases. Have you ever noticed that most of the 100-year-old people live in the South of Italy?

8).How important is the avant-garde in your recipes? Is it more or less of the rigor? (Chiedilo alla Dani)

They are not actually opposite, there is no avant-garde without rigor. The creativity process becomes better when it is free to fly but has some rules to follow. Ferran Adria is the best example, great creativity and great rigor in the execution.