Monte Carlo is a home from home for today’s jet-setting elite, and Rampoldi is the place they go to eat once they’ve moored the yacht. The kitchen of the recently renovated Rampoldi, which celebrated its 70th birthday in 2016, is helmed by Mr Antonio Salvatore, an acclaimed chef who has spent years working in some of the world’s best public and private kitchens. Italian-born Salvatore is an avid believer in fresh, seasonal ingredients being the most important aspect of any dish, and its an idea that he is counting on to introduce Rampoldi to a new generation of diners.
We spoke to Chef Salvatore to see where his passion for cooking came from, and hear all about what he loves to eat.
After stints as a chef in England, Russia and elsewhere, as well as a private chef, why did heading the kitchen at Monte Carlo’s iconic Rampoldi restaurant make sense for you?
Monte Carlo is the perfect place to put international experience to good use. Rampoldi guests come from all over the globe. Having worked across different cultures and continents, I feel confident I can create something for each guest to enjoy, no matter their palette or where in the world they hail from.
Monaco is known as the European playground for the rich and famous. Is that the clientele you have in mind when you’re designing your menu and getting behind the stove?
Monaco certainly occupies a prestigious role on the world stage. At Rampoldi we take pride in knowing many of our guests personally. Of course, I tailor options to suit their tastes but when it comes to designing a menu, inspiration needs to start with ingredients and fresh produce. Originality and simplicity are key. I use only the finest seasonal produce of the highest quality which I often hand-pick myself.
With the rise of veganism, ‘free-from’ dishes and other adapted diets, do you find you’re having to evolve your cooking style to satisfy changing palettes? And how do you feel about these modern food movements.
I relish it! For me veganism, plant-based and other adapted diets are an opportunity to be creative, improve my practices and technique in the kitchen. We offer vegan options of course. All requests are welcome. It is important to adapt to the times, and to changing needs and attitudes – it’s a part of life.
Is cooking intuitive or learned; is it about the senses or the mind?
Cooking must be intuitive, of course there are foundations and techniques to learn in training, but it is a sensory, creative experience. It is an art-form that uses both the senses and the mind.
What excites you most about being in the kitchen?
Working with good, fresh produce is something that never fails to excite me. Having customers who appreciate the end result and the hard work that goes into it makes it even more worthwhile!
What single ingredient can you not live without and why?
I am not sure I can pick only one! I come from Southern Italy, so I cannot live without good olive oil, fresh tomatoes and homemade pasta. To me they are the basics of good cuisine. Growing up we grew our own tomatoes and harvested olives to make oil. It’s been a way of life for as long as I can remember.
What is true luxury in cooking (and eating)?
Cooking is my absolute passion. Each day to be able to use my passion in my work and for the enjoyment of others gives me great joy. This to me is a luxury.
Your three favourite dishes to eat: what are they and where do you go for them?
My favorite dishes have to be those from my Italian homeland made by my mother, aunt and grandmother. My family encouraged my passion for cooking. Taglioni with white truffle, Tortellini al brodo and braised veal in red wine would be my top three. Anything made with love and great taste is a favourite!
In your restaurant who really knows best, the chef or the diner?
Monte Carlo diners have high gastronomic expectations. It is very important for a chef to listen carefully to their preferences and to offer creative, innovative choices.