A flagship dish of Northern Italian cuisine, risotto is increasingly being recognised worldwide as a ‘Made in Italy’ icon along with pizza and pasta.
The recognition the risotto has achieved was thanks to its origin from a unique mix of quality ingredients and the use of cooking techniques, improved in recent years by the latest technologies.
This evolution was celebrated in Dubai in the finals of The Risotto Quest, a culinary contest to find the best risotto in the UAE, which awarded the most creative chefs in the classic and innovative risotto categories: Chef Francesco Dimonte of Emirates First Class Lounge, for the Best Classic Risotto, and Chef Davide Gardini of BiCE Ristorante, for the Best Innovative Risotto.
In addition to a Certificate from The Dubai Restaurants Group, Chef Dimonte received an invitation to Milan with expenses covered for TUTTOFOOD 2021, the innovative international platform for the agri-food trade sector, and Chef Gardini received an invitation to HostMilano 2021, the global event for the HORECA and foodservice industries.
“When it comes to a successful traditional risotto, you can’t single out a specific ingredient,” says Chef Dimonte. “The ingredients of a risotto represent an entire territory and this is what makes it so special for me to prepare ‘traditional’ dishes. We absolutely use Italian ingredients, and Italian equipment too. I consider myself lucky for counting on a company that provides me with the best technologies available and the location we used for the Quest, with its open view kitchen, is proof of it.”
“Traditional or innovative, I agree there are no tricks or shortcuts in the kitchen. What matters is the quality of raw materials and to remain faithful to our Italian roots,” adds Chef Gardini. “All the typical and traditional products we serve at BiCE Ristorante come from Italy, but with a modern vision. We use technology, like partial vacuum cooking at low temperatures, to enhance the intrinsic quality of our raw materials, besides preventing contamination.”
The contest was organised by TUTTOFOOD and HostMilano with the support of The Emirates Culinary Guild, The Dubai Restaurants Group, The Italian Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates, and ICE/ITA Italian Trade Agency. It involved 16 chefs from 13 restaurants in the UAE, including Alici, BiCE Mare, BiCE Ristorante, Capital Club Dubai, Crescendo, Eataly, Emirates First Class Lounge, Grand Plaza Mövenpick, McGettigan’s, Sapori, Shakespeare & Co., Slice, Torno Subito, and Thunder Road Pizza & Grill.
In the qualification stage, from October 19 to November 3, chefs from participating restaurants shot a video while preparing their risotto recipe, that was uploaded to The Emirates Culinary Guild’s YouTube channel. Voting took place on YouTube by the general public and by three chefs of The Emirates Culinary Guild, with the Chefs’ vote counting for 70 percent of the final result.
On November 18, the four finalists were announced: Chef Francesco Dimonte of Emirates First Class Lounge and Chef Enrico Paiola of Capital Club Dubai in the Best Classic Risotto category, and Chef Mohamad Ali of Shakespeare & Co. and Chef Davide Gardini of BiCE Ristorante in the Best Innovative Risotto Category. While recipes for classic risottos had to include only traditional ingredients with classic methods, innovative risottos were expected to include new ingredients or use the traditional ones in novel and creative ways.
During the final challenge, two groups of jury members visited the restaurants of the finalist chefs to taste the recipes and cast their votes. The jury was composed of Amedeo Scarpa – Director ICE Dubai, Chef Uwe Micheel – President of The Emirates Culinary Guild, Thomas Paoletti – President Italian Business Council and Massimo Falcioni – Vice-President Italian Business Council for the classic risotto; Naim Maadad – Dubai Restaurants Group, Chef Michael Kitts – Director of Culinary Arts, Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, and Donna Benton – Founder & CEO, The Benton Group for the innovative risotto. Customers of the day also had the opportunity to enjoy a taste of these very special risottos.
TUTTOFOOD counted on a sponsorship by Riso Gallo for its support of the event.