He is known to be a rebel on the Italian food scene, but to chef Carlo Cracco, the history of a dish is still important. “If you know the history of a dish or ingredient, you can improve and change it,” he explains. “Having the knowledge of how it came about, and then giving it the consideration it is due, will provide you the guidance to change it, mix it with another dish or ingredient to create a hybrid, or even just simplify it.”
Cracco opened the one-Michelin-star Ristorante Cracco in Milan 10 years ago, where his progressive style of cuisine became his claim to fame. With recipes incorporating eclectic ingredients such as coffee powder and sea urchin, the chef admits some diners found his food hard to swallow at the time. “But now that they have gotten used to it, they like it. I find that diners are more curious now, and they are willing to be more experimental with the food they eat.”
Innovative though he may be, chef Cracco, who has appeared in the Italian version of popular TV shows MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen, still finds it important to retain his Italian heritage. “I do this by using ingredients such as tomato, basil and olives,” he shares. He describes how he made a classic rum baba dessert his own, for the Singapore Airlines menu. “Few people know that the recipe originated from Poland. The French and English also have their own way of preparing it but mine is inspired by the Neapolitan version, filled with cream and jelly.”
Cracco, who was born in Vicenza, Italy, explains how his Mediterranean background is a perfect fit for the modern traveller’s demand for healthier meals. “People want to eat very well, they want the quality. The base of a Mediterranean diet is built from vegetables and legumes, then we layer it with carbohydrates – that’s where the pasta, bread and pizzas come in – followed by meat at the top.”
Sharing his plans to include more wholesome dishes in the Singapore Airlines inflight dining menu for the coming year, he stresses that he won’t be “serving a salad without anything. It might be with meat, balanced with a superfood such as beetroot. It will have colour and nutrition, and a gourmet spin.”
– TEXT BY LOW SHI PING
PHOTOGRAPHY: TAN WEI TE, ART DIRECTION: NG SAY LEE, GROOMING: ADELENE SIOW, HAIR: ANNIE TAY
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.