Chef Igor Macchia talks Italian-infused creations, collaboration with Riyadh’s new Lavazza Coffee Design eatery

DUBAI: Italian chef Igor Macchia is excited about the opening in Riyadh of Lavazza Coffee Design, which infuses his signature dishes and brews with Middle Eastern tastes and flavors.

Having designed the menu for the establishment, which opened on May 23, Macchia is looking forward to Saudi Arabia customers experiencing his creations.

Italian chef Igor Macchia designed the menu at Riyadh’s Lavazza Coffee Edition. (Supplied)

“The creative process started from a local consumer taste perspective combined with the Lavazza Italian DNA and my Michelin-star background from La Credenza Restaurant (San Maurizio Canavese, Torino, Italy),” said Macchia in an interview with Arab News.

Lavazza’s premium 1895 collection cosists of  limited-quantity microlot coffee, specialty blends and single-origin brews. (Supplied)

“I’ve visited different restaurants and spots in Middle East and tasted a lot of local recipes to get inspiration for my project for Lavazza Coffee Design store. The result is a rich and tasty menu, ranging from breakfast to dinner, ideal to be paired with 1895 premium coffee, selected by Lavazza for this store in Riyadh.”

Inspired by Lavazza’s flagship stores in London and Milan, the Riyadh location boasts signature design elements, such as the iconic chandelier made up of more than 300 illuminated coffee beans and the main counter finished with exhausted coffee powder and resin for an original effect.

Additionally, the coffee experience is elevated by the introduction of Lavazza’s premium 1895 collection sourced from around the world. It consists of limited-quantity microlot coffee, specialty blends and single-origin brews.

During the interview, Macchia spoke about his favorite dish, early mistakes and management style.

When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made when preparing/cooking a dish?

I’ve never done a mistake — joking. I think the most common mistake was to enrich a lot a recipe looking for the best taste while, at the end, it’s sufficient to start by buying good quality ingredients and just treat ingredients by giving value to them for a wow effect.

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs, cooking at home?

Cooking is all about passion. Recipes are good to start with, but they need a personal touch, to become real wonderful dish.

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?

Parmesan cheese in all kinds of forms: wrapped, chopped, etc.

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food? What’s the most common mistake/issue that you find in other restaurants?

When I go out for dinner, it is a moment of pure pleasure and I love enjoying it without any fussing or critiquing. I personally like restaurants where clients’ satisfaction is at the center of the experience. The most common mistake is building up a very beautiful venue but with no soul in it. The vibe you can feel inside your preferred spot will make the difference.

When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine/dish to order? And why?

It all depends on the mood: it can be a traditional place like an Italian trattoria as well as a fine-dining restaurant or ethnic food which I do love.

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home?

Easy and fancy at the same time: rigatoni with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finished with a pinch of Lavazza ground coffee powder.

What request/behavior by customers most annoys you?

Clients are our everyday guests: we need to listen to their requests. Maybe one suggestion coming from a client, one day it will be a new dish on the menu.

What’s your favorite dish to cook and why?

The risotto, no doubt about it. I spent my summer childhood in the Vercelli area, where the Piedmont rice comes from. The risotto has a special place in my heart.

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right, whether on your current menu or not?

I think the “Tiramisu by Lavazza” — the iconic Italian coffee-based dessert — should be the one. The sponge cake, instead of the lady fingers biscuits, needs to be prepared in the right way to be light and airy. Then you finish the dish with mascarpone foam with syphon and pour with the 1895 Cocoa Reloaded espresso on top. Different steps and texture for an amazing result.

As a head chef, what are you like? Are you a disciplinarian? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laid back?

I’m personally a disciplinarian but I’ve learned, during my career, that the team motivation is key to reach great results. No need to shout, jst need to build a team spirit.

Recipe: MASCARPONE & DRIED FRUITS TOAST

The chef’s marscapone and dried fruits toast. (Supplied) 

Start by selecting a sour dough bread, cut 1 cm slice and gently toast it.

Spread generously with mascarpone cheese, add pomegranate seeds, decorate with fresh mint leaves and finish with a sweet sauce made with honey and chopped dried fruits like dates, pistachio and nuts. Serve it to your guests for a fresh and tasty breakfast. Ideal to be paired with your preferred coffee.

 

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