Star chef Walter Ferretto tells his story and talks about the future of catering – TravelEat

Thanks for collaborating with I open from Alba, the Hotel and Hospitality Training Academy, we meet Walter FerrettoOwner chef of the restaurant New farm, awarded a Michelin star, to Isola d’Asti. His encounter with the stove came almost by chance, despite the fact that the family had been running the business for some time. In fact, after completing his studies as an accountant, he envisioned trying his hand at other activities. And the specificity of his training course makes it even more interesting to discover his history and listen to his views on the problems of the catering sector.

Before you worked in the kitchen, what were the most important and formative experiences that made you choose the profession of a chef?

There was always a lot of France in my way of cooking. The hotel’s 2 Michelin star restaurant Crillion on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, it was my first experience almost as a neophyte. Since I did not have adequate education, I grew up cooking as my mom and grandma. It was my mother, however, who had already seen the efforts made in the late 1968s to run a restaurant business, had encouraged me to continue my studies in accounting, while my father strongly wanted me to take over in the future, the Family Business. It so happened that I met Giacomo Bologna of the Braida Cellars of Rocchetta Tanaro e Angelo Gaja who somehow encouraged me to pursue this profession, to support me in training courses in various kitchens. Especially in Alsace, where I learned, for example, to know in depth Foie Gras

Speaking of training, when one considers that you have learned the profession “at work”, what are the problems today in identifying competent staff for the kitchen and dining room?

Precisely in the light of my education not strictly in the classroom, but directly in the field, I can say for sure today that the problem lies precisely in the training and in the lack of adequate teachers, often not current and not very incisive. to motivate future professional resources. This inadequacy is also reflected in the expectations of the public, who believe that to go to a star restaurant, especially as far as the dining room is concerned, still requires a rigid waiter standing at the side of the table, formally and with the sole task they kiss. the dish without emotion.Times have clearly changed. In my restaurant, but also in those of my “starred” colleagues, the customer-personal relationship is “friendly”, almost helping to enjoy the gastronomic experience that is rarely done in life and that you can not wait to enjoy back.

What are the characteristics that a trainee must have in order to be recruited into his brigade and to be able to successfully recruit staff to his restaurant with an employment contract?

Basic skills and knowledge must be present, at least at a theoretical level taught in school. But what interests me most is that there is a passion and a desire to learn the trade in the dining room as well as in the kitchen. I have been making kilos of frogs for many years and this has helped me to know the raw material carefully, to cook it, to innovate it, to combine it with different and contemporary flavors. This aspect regarding the knowledge of the raw material is very important. As a boy when I finished my shift in the kitchen, I made the books available and studied all the preparation techniques, pasta, meat, vegetables. Today when a young person asks me to stay extra hours in the kitchen to study or ask me for advice on how to proceed, I am always very happy. I like to surround myself with young people because I better “work” for them, passing on my knowledge to them. Only a good relationship between the chef and the brigade and a perfect harmony between the kitchen and the salon staff can establish a serious and lasting working relationship. There is no continuity today: after 6 months, up to a year, we restaurateurs and chefs have to start looking for staff again, start training again and it’s a very stressful situation. Thanks to my collaboration as an Apprentice Chef at Alba’s Hotel and Hospitality Academy – l’Apro – I’m able to favor internships for a few well-deserved young people. A Spanish boy who was enthusiastic about his role in the kitchen and became very good at it, recently opened his first restaurant business at Asti and for me it was a great satisfaction.

The dish that identifies it most is the “Millefoglie di lingua foie gras”, a dish that has been on the menu since 1987 and is still appreciated by customers and reported by guides. How was it born?

I still do not know how it happened! I can tell you this explanation, however: the menu of a restaurant in the USA, where I took a service, provided that among the main dishes was the famous sautéed tuna with sesame seeds. I was passionate about this dish because it looked like a slice of red meat and I thought it would be interesting to suggest it at a restaurant in Italy, maybe to visit again to try and keep the traditional Piedmontese cuisine and things meat. Luckily I had a very good cook in the kitchen who did not read but remembered everything that was said to him and so I told him about this dish and my ideas about it. Here, by trying and trying again, which might really look like that tone but could respect the kitchen of mom and grandma, this dish was born: a blend between the French tradition of foie gras that I knew how to act, in the language of veal combined with various sauces, one of the fundamental pieces of mixed cooked meat. In the beginning, I served it as the only small aperitif: the customers had a little more to understand, getting used to the classic Piedmont aperitif. Then a journalist from the only 24 ore, Davide Paolini, wrote so enthusiastically about it that we were “forced” to include it among the beginners, but in one piece proposed a little larger. A small innovation that we were a little hesitant about, but which we, perhaps also thanks to the recognition of the journalist, took courage and continued to offer with pleasure: The public called us to find out if it was always available and of course could only be proud of our work. In 1987, it really was a game … but very successful.

As its menu has evolved over time

My menu changes every day: the proposal has changed over time, adapting to the evolution of tastes and customers. When it comes to contamination, it must be understood in a positive sense: the solid foundations of tradition must always exist. But combined with some special tastes to satisfy even international customers who can learn to appreciate how a taste of their own territory can also mix with that of another. Cooking is for me a constant source of inspiration, a way to also think about the future evolutions of the tastes and needs of the public that are changing very fast. The maintenance of traditional dishes, with the constant use of products associated with local producers, is in full harmony with my way of proposing dishes and combinations, sometimes in courageous experiments, but always associated with the territory.

Along with the restaurant, there is also the hotel: how did business change after the pandemic?

The hotel part has changed a lot over time according to customer needs. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s (years in which I came into the kitchen), access to the rooms was mostly dedicated to those who spent the evening at the nearby disco (I owned) and, as a restaurant overlooking a state road, many patrons in the area, especially for business reasons, might like to stop for dinner and then rest at the hotel. Lately, however, the hotel is visited at the request of many tourists who do their food and wine tours in the area and this is a very quiet and green area, and not even so busy.

Cascinale Nuovo is located in Isola d’Asti on the state road n. 231 Phone 0141. 958166

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