A city is doing something seriously right when it wins more prestigious James Beard awards per head of the population than anywhere else in the US. Step forward, New Orleans.
“First of all you need to produce great food”. It’s a pretty simple mantra from Umberto Bombana. His Otto e Mezzo is the only three-starred Italian restaurant anywhere in the world outside of his homeland. So when he talks restaurant advice, you listen.
At the first Hong Kong Slow Food chef’s talk, a crowd of more than 75 were doing just that. Bombana made for a very likeable interviewee over 90 minutes, questioned smartly and well accompanied by photos throughout his career and a nifty video from Otto e Mezzo deconstructing one of his dishes.
The evening also took me back to the first time I met him, in 2005. I’d been in Hong Kong all of three weeks when I got an invite to attend ‘The world’s most expensive dinner’ at Toscana, his former restaurant at the Ritz Carlton. I was one of sixty diners who helped to consume a 95,000 euro white truffle, documenting it for CNN at the time: http://www.finefooddude.com/toscana-hong-kong-truffle/
There are more chef talks to come in the months ahead and are all worth checking out – Vicky Lau from Tate and Richard Ekkebus from Amber are top of my list, while self-styled ‘Demon Chef’ Alvin Leung will doubtless be shy and retiring. Here’s the lineup and further details: http://www.hkfringeclub.com/en/whatson/554-Chef+Talks.html