Flavours Without Borders

Boasting an illustrious career spanning more than two decades, Victor Zanotti, Executive Chef at Reef Boutique Hotel, talks all things food – from his mixed culinary heritage and menu creations to making an appearance on live TV!

You’ve travelled all over the world with your career. Which country or cuisine has had the most influence on your cooking style?
My cuisine has Italian roots; I grew up on a farm in the north of Italy. The cuisine there is different but very tasty. The basis of Italian food has helped me a lot in my career.
Honestly, I had many influences travelling around the world. The Asian continent has inspired me greatly but South American cuisine, which is also in my blood having been born in Peru in Lima, has recently become part of my culinary portfolio.

Since joining Reef Boutique Hotel last year, can you describe your approach to menu development and creation of new dishes?
It is my first time in Bahrain and the Middle East. I started creating menus for Reef Boutique Hotel in October. My team and I were inspired by international cuisine, from local to South American, Asian and Mediterranean. We try to use local produce as much as possible, trying to safeguard the environment, which has always been a very important point in all my creations over the last 10 years.

You’ve been on Discovery Channel’s Food Network. How was the experience showcasing your talent on live TV?
The television experience was a lot of fun. Certainly, doing it in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a two-kilometre island was very complicated – the temperatures and the sun gave us a hard time because the products melted and deteriorated very quickly. But thanks to Manuele Baiocchini and his team, we made it. We recorded two 30-minute episodes in four days under the scorching sun of the Maldives and even managed to make a ravioli! In the future, we would like to do it in fantastic Bahrain too.

What is your signature dish at Reef Boutique Hotel and the inspiration behind it?
We have designed two dishes, which we will soon launch in two of the new outlets at Reef Boutique Hotel.
Lomo Saltado, which takes me back to my South American origins in Peru, with a small touch of Nikkei cuisine (Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine), served with vegetables, purple potatoes and Jasmine rice.
Another latest creation is a pizza. Let’s say that it is not a typical Neapolitan dough. It is more like a Roman pinsa but much thinner. It is served with salmon, mixed salad, stracciatella cheese, confit cherry tomatoes and a green olive sauce. ✤