Gusto Italiano food fest focuses on southern Italian cuisine

Parma’s Mojito, a lime and mint risotto adorned with parmesan ice cream, and The Truffle (above), a dessert made of hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee and resembling a freshly unearthed truffle, are among dishes featured at Gusto Italiano.
Parma’s Mojito, a lime and mint risotto adorned with parmesan ice cream, and The Truffle (above), a dessert made of hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee and resembling a freshly unearthed truffle, are among dishes featured at Gusto Italiano.PHOTO: GUSTO ITALIANO
Parma’s Mojito (above), a lime and mint risotto adorned with parmesan ice cream, and The Truffle, a dessert made of hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee and resembling a freshly unearthed truffle, are among dishes featured at Gusto Italiano.
Parma’s Mojito (above), a lime and mint risotto adorned with parmesan ice cream, and The Truffle, a dessert made of hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee and resembling a freshly unearthed truffle, are among dishes featured at Gusto Italiano. PHOTO: GUSTO ITALIANO
Guest chefs from Italy include Emanuele Mazzella (above) from Michelin-starred Ristorante Vespasia and Igles Corelli from Michelin-starred Ristorante Atman.
Guest chefs from Italy include Emanuele Mazzella (above) from Michelin-starred Ristorante Vespasia and Igles Corelli from Michelin-starred Ristorante Atman.
Guest chefs from Italy include Emanuele Mazzella (left) from Michelin-starred Ristorante Vespasia and Igles Corelli from Michelin-starred Ristorante Atman. Parma's Mojito (above), a lime and mint risotto adorned with parmesan ice cream, and The Truff
Guest chefs from Italy include Emanuele Mazzella from Michelin-starred Ristorante Vespasia and Igles Corelli (above) from Michelin-starred Ristorante Atman.

Food festival Gusto Italiano returns with wine dinners and workshops featuring the light and sunny cuisine of South Italy

The annual Italian gastronomy festival Gusto Italiano returns for its fourth edition with a focus on Southern Italian cuisine.

From chestnut pasta to cheese and seafood, gourmands can savour the light and sunny cuisine of South Italy, which is steeped in Mediterranean influences, and pair it with Italian wines.

The festival, which holds dining events throughout the year, will mark its launch from Sept 1 to Oct 15 with wine dinners and cooking workshops featuring 18 chefs from more than 10 Italian restaurants.

Prices of the events range from $25++ a person for a cooking workshop to $268++ a person for the marquee event, The Best Of Italy Gala Dinner, a 10-hands dinner headlined by chef Igles Corelli of one-Michelin-starred Ristorante Atman in Tuscany and four chefs from Italian restaurants here.

Bringing a slice of Southern Italian flavour to the festival is Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Tras Street. It will offer a six-course dinner on Sept 14 that features the flavours of autumn, using seasonal ingredients such as burrata cheese and mushrooms. Dishes from the menu include new creations such as spiced yellowtail with roasted pumpkin cream, and chestnut flour pasta made from the nut, which is commonly grown in Sicily.

  • Five Gusto Italiano highlights

  • 1. FLAVOURS OF ITALY CULINARY WORKSHOPS

    Take a leaf out of the cookbooks of eight chefs from Italian restaurants as they dish out tips and recipes in cooking demonstrations.

    Chef Diego Chiarini from OSO Ristorante will whip up penne with beetroot pesto, shrimps and herb; and Mediterranean-style tuna loin with pear salad. Chef Riccardo Catarsi from il Cielo, Hilton Singapore, will share his recipes for charcoal pumpkin ravioli with chick pea cream, red onion balsamic vinegar and black truffle; and chilled sea bass with beetroot, sundried tomatoes and fish reduction.

    Where: ToTTC ooking Studio, 896 Dunearn Road

    When: Sept 3 and 4, 10am, noon, 2 and4pm

    Price: $25++ a person

  • 2. THE FLAVOURS OF PIEDMONT AND VALLED’AOSTA WITH THE WINES OF CASTELLO DI QUERCETO

    Helmed by chef Dalton Fong of La Strada Ristorante, this five-course dinner features contemporary Italian dishes such as roasted quail and grappa cherries paired with 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG,and breaded veal cutlets stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto paired with 2012 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione IL Picchio DOCGand 2010 Cignale IGT.

    Where: La Strada Ristorante, 1 Scotts Road,ShawCentre, 01-13

    When: Sept 15,7pm

    Price: $128++ a person

  • 3. THE BEST OF ITALY GALA DINNER

    Chef Igles Corelli of one-Michelin-starred Ristorante Atmanin Tuscany teams up with four chefs from Italian restaurants here to present a five-course dinner. They include Mario Caramella from in Italy Bar Ristorante and chef Marco De Vincentis from The Waterfall, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.

    Dishes include guinea fowl stuffed with duck foie gras, accompanied by beetroot puree, saffron sauce, olive air and black rice crisps by chef Corelli, and pumpkinand chestnut risotto, foie grasand crutin truffle cheese, and liquorice dust by chef Caramella.

    Where: Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road, Tower Ballroom

    When: Sept 28,7pm

    Price: $268++ a person; $228++ a person for a group of six or more

  • 4. THE CUISINE OF MASTERCHEF IGLES CORELLI WITH THE WINES OF MACULAN

    Savour highlights from the 30-year career of internationally renowned chef Igles Corelli of Ristorante Atmanin this six-course dinner.

    Dishes include his recent creation, Parma’s Mojito, a lime and mint risotto adorned with parmesan ice cream; and Trigabolo 1986, a dessert of fried and caramelised cream puffs with citrus sauce, which he came up with at his first restaurant, called Il Trigabolo, in 1986.

    Where: The Waterfall, 22 Orange Grove Road, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, Garden Wing, Level 1

    When: Sept 29, 7pm

    Price: $168++ a person

  • 5. THE CUISINE OF MASTERCHEF FELICE LO BASSO WITH THE WINES OF LA SPINETTA

    Tuck into a five-course dinner whipped up by chef Felice Lo Basso of his one-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in Milan.

    Main courses include saffron potato dumpling with duck ragout, and pistachio-and-lard-crusted lamb. Pair the food with wines such as a limited-edition Lidia Piemonte Chardonnay DOC 2010 and Barbera d’Asti Ca’di Pian DOC 2011.

    Where: The Lighthouse, 1 Fullerton Square,The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Level 8

    When: Oct 6,7pm

    Price: $228++ a person

Gattopardo chef-owner Lino Sauro, 45, who is from Sicily, says: "Growing up on my family farm, I have the seasons of Sicily running through my blood, so I want to share the feel of autumn, which is a beautiful season with incredible ingredients."

Another chef showcasing his Southern Italian roots is chef Emanuele Mazzella from one- Michelin-starred Ristorante Vespasia in Perugia, Italy.

The 34-year-old, who grew up in Ischia, will be cooking a six-course dinner at Dolce Vita in Mandarin Oriental hotel on Oct 13. The food will be paired with wines from the Renato Ratti winery in Piedmont, Italy.

The menu includes a dish of cod with parsley, olive oil and lemon, topped with foam from the poaching liquid. It draws inspiration from his grandmother's recipe.

A dessert on the menu, called The Truffle, which is made of hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee and resembles a freshly unearthed truffle, was created by the chef after a truffle hunting trip in Norcia, which is famed for its black truffles.

The festival is organised by event management and exhibitions company Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, and food and beverage consultancy Poulose Associates.

Mr Francis Poulose, 48, managing director of Poulose Associates, believes the shift in the dining scene towards Southern Italian cuisine marks diners' evolving experiences with Italian cuisine.

He says: "People usually start off with Northern Italian cuisine, which has a heavier and bolder style. But as their taste buds become more refined, they are interested to explore Southern Italian cuisine, which tends to be lighter and more colourful."

At Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar in Purvis Street, its five-course dinner on Sept 20 will be paired with wines from Baglio di Pianetto, a boutique Sicilian winery making its debut at the festival.

Garibaldi managing director and executive chef Roberto Galetti, 46, says he was so impressed by the wines that he created a pairing menu to capture "the amazing combination of flavours and spices from the Mediterranean Sea".

Highlights from the menu include a Mediterranean-inspired medley of mackerel grilled in banana leaf, cilantro octopus with hummus and sardine gratin; and sauteed tiger prawn with curry powder, couscous, mint yogurt and cactus fruits.

Chef Corelli, who is headlining the festival's gala dinner on Sept 28, will also showcase a blend of traditional and modern cooking techniques from his three-decadelong culinary career at The Waterfall in Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, from Sept 28 to Oct 1.

The 61-year-old, who is regarded as a stalwart of Italy's culinary scene, will come up with a new dish during his maiden cooking stint here that features one of his favourite types of meat - guinea fowl.

He says: "This meat is rooted in my childhood and it is rich in flavour with a firmer texture than other poultry."

Rounding up the trio of guest chefs is Felice Lo Basso, who has an eponymous restaurant in Milan. He will be cooking at The Fullerton Hotel from Oct 5 to 9.

The festival hopes to attract about 800 people for the dining events during the launch period. It is presented by HSBC and cardholders get a 20 per cent discount on these dining events.

Afterwards, there will be monthly dining promotions at more than 40 restaurants and HSBC cardholders get 15 per cent off a la carte dishes. The promotions include an Italian Christmas buffet at Grand Hyatt Singapore in December. And in the first half of next year, chefs Enrico and Roberto Cerea of three-Michelinstarred Da Vittorio restaurant in Brusaporto, Italy, will present an Italian dinner at Fratelli Trattoria in Resorts World Sentosa.

  • For more information on Gusto Italiano, go to gustoitaliano.com.sg or call 6319-4038.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Taste of Southern Italy'. Print Edition | Subscribe