Chef’s Table: Michelin-star chef Giancarlo Perbellini talks elevating family recipes and his ultimate comfort food

Tempus’s Chef’s Table series meets Giancarlo Perbellini as he talks working with Pasta Evangelists, his favourite recipes and more

Chef's Table Giancarlo PerbelliniChef Giancarlo Perbellini knows a thing or two about Italian cuisine. Heralded as one of the most celebrated Italian chefs in the business, the two Michelin-starred chef creates dishes and desserts that celebrate everything Italy has to offer.

A native of Verona, Giancarlo opened his acclaimed restaurant, Casa Perbellini, in 2014, bringing the influences of his grandparents, which is where his passion for food and cooking comes from, into his recipes and elevating the dishes to the level of fine dining expected from a Michelin star chef of his calibre. 

Now, he has joined forces with Pasta Evangelists to elevate their pasta dishes — available at Harrods and across takeaway platforms — to the Michelin standard by becoming their new executive chef.

So, it was only right that we caught up with Giancarlo for the third instalment of our Chef’s Table series. Here, the chef tells us about his ultimate comfort foods that are firmly rooted in his familial roots, his guilty pleasure foods and working with Pasta Evangelists — straight from the chef’s table. 

Giancarlo, your restaurant Casa Perbellini specialises in Italian fine dining. What sets your menu apart?
We change the menu every year. The menu is always made with the season — with the best products of that season. We have two different menus: one is classic, with recipes created by me and the previous owner, with some recipes as old as 20 years. The other one is a bit more modern — created by — and features vegetarian substitutions as well.

We are always changing our menus, barring our signature dishes, which is a mainstay. We always have one or two pastas or risottos, which is classic Italian cuisine, and then there is something a bit more modern depending on the season and the products.

How would you describe your style as a chef? What do you want your guests to experience?
For me, the style is the taste. It’s not about the look, it is about the taste after the look. So when I speak with the customers, I always say that they need to taste — it should always be first. That is what I want them to experience. And I hope that they remember the taste and the feeling. I hope that once they leave the restaurant, they remember the experience and something about me.Pasta EvangelistsYou’re Pasta Evangelists’ new executive chef. What drew you to the brand?
There are some incredible chefs at Pasta Evangelists and it has been a great experience working with them and developing the recipes. We speak a lot about the recipes because the production is totally different, which is exciting. It’s like a dream — I develop and send over a lot of recipes and we start to try and make them over the phone.

What is your ultimate comfort food? What do you make for yourself at home after a long, gruelling day or week at your restaurant?
The most important product for me is rice, so risotto, for me, is incredible. The second dish I would say is spaghetti. There are a lot of ways to make it, it’s quick and I think it is the food of the Italian people.

But in Verona, where I’m from, all the people eat risotto, and it depends on the season. In the winter, we eat risotto with pork and vegetables — pumpkin is very special for our kitchen. During autumn, truffles, and with tomatoes during the summer.Giancarlo Perbellini risotto chef's tableWhy is this a comfort food to you? Do you have any special memories associated with the dish?
I think it’s because this is a recipe that my grandfather made every Sunday at home, so it’s like it is a member of our family and there are memories associated with it that I cherish.

My grandfather was a pastry chef and a cook, so we have two-three recipes that we make at home, and then we make it in a new way at the restaurant [to elevate it into a fine dining dish]. 

Can you please share the recipe of this dish for our readers?
Of course! Here is how you make my cinnamon-flavoured risotto with suckling pig:Chef's Table recipe
What makes a good risotto? Do you have any tips for our readers attempting to recreate this dish?
Always cook it al-dente — normally no more than 12 to 14 minutes. It is the same for the pasta, but depending where you are, from the south to the north of Italy, the way people cook pasta is different. So, in southern Italy, it is a bit more al-dente; up north, it is a bit more cooked.

And finally, what is your favourite guilty pleasure food or snack?
[Laughs] There is only one and that is Nutella. You can eat it with a spoon and you just never stop! You can put it in crepes or bread or whatever you like, but for me, I always eat it by the spoonful when I arrive home from work at night and then after, I wonder, “Oh my god! Why did I do that?” So nutella for me.

To know more about Chef’s Table and chef Giancarlo’s cooking heroes — including the best meal he’s ever had — subscribe to our weekly newsletter, the Tempus Edit, here. And read other interviews in our Chef’s Table series here.

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