Italian Food Festival sees visiting chef whip up wholesome Mediterranean dishes

Italian Food Festival sees visiting chef whip up wholesome Mediterranean dishes

Chef De Liso was a guest of the Italian consulate, which celebrated the national day of Italy in Karachi.
Updated 06 Jun, 2024

The clear glass-enclosed bright kitchen of Asia Live restaurant at Avari Towers turned into the Colosseum of Rome with spectators cheering the performers in the middle of the clash of pots and pans, knives, forks and ladles. The biggest gladiator in the arena was Chef Vincenzo de Liso. Perhaps it would be better to call this modern-day gladiator a ‘master chef’. The black toque replaced the galea and the white apron the armour.

He fought hard with flour, potato, tomato, cheese, eggs and came out the winner. There was fire, there was steam and smoke but there was also aroma, the garlicky, slightly spicy, subtle smells of cooking tomatoes, carrots and herbs, olive oil, cheese and meat.

Chef De Liso was a guest of the Consulate of Italy in Karachi, which is celebrating the national day of Italy by organising Bella Italia or the Italian Food Festival in Karachi from June 4 till June 9. The week aims to celebrate Italian culinary heritage and benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Chef Vincenzo de Liso told Dawn that it is his first visit to Karachi and he is loving it so much here that it will not be his last. In order to promote Italian food philosophy and gastronomical excellence, he supervised an Italian buffet on Tuesday followed by hosting a masterclass, a live cooking demonstration, on Wednesday, for all those interested in learning how to cook Italian food.

During the demonstration, the chef cooked three traditional recipes from Naples. There was the comfort food Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina, a potato, flour and egg dough kneaded and rolled into a long thin dough before being cut into small bite-size pieces which were then boiled in water before being transferred to a pot of tomato sauce.

Next came the minced meat and pasta dish Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese. It was fun watching the master chef kneading the dough mixed with egg and passing it through the hand-operated pasta maker before dropping it all into the pot of boiling water. On the side, he had been cooking the minced meat in thick tomato sauce.

Finally, it was the turn for everyone’s favourite pizza. The kind prepared by our chef was called Pizza Napoletana. The main part of the pizza, its dough, was prepared and refrigerated for 24 hours before the actual making of the pizza. It was brought out from the cold only three hours before to allow it to reach normal temperature. The pizza sauce was like a master gravy used in all the three dishes prepared during the live demonstration. It was prepared using onions, carrots, tomato, celery and olive oil of course. The cheese in this case was Parmesan.

Wholesome Mediterranean food would always include olives, several kinds of cheese, tomatoes, onions and fresh herbs. But Chef Vincenzo De Liso could not help not mention his mother, whom he was missing a lot while preparing each of the three dishes. He wished he had brought her to Pakistan with him though he tried to make everything using her methods. So another very important ingredient in the food will have to be mother’s love.

Originally published in Dawn, June 6th, 2024.


Rubina A Mahmood Jun 06, 2024 05:07pm
What time. Is it open for public
Lalithan Jun 06, 2024 09:11pm
Every thing Italian it is.... Mediterranean joie de vivre
Nadeem Shah USA Jun 07, 2024 12:52am
Pizza was first created in New York and not Italy. During and after WW2, Americans were hunting for pizza in Italy but no one knew how to make it. Finally pizza making was imported to Italy by some smart ppl and today pizza is all over Italy.