Gianluca Cazzin, Chef de Cuisine

We indulge in a tasting at the table of Gianluca Cazzin, Chef de Cuisine at Frankie’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, in Fairmont Bab al Bahr hotel. Let’s see what the new man behind the menu hopes to achieve at this popular dining venue…

He has around three decades of professional culinary experience, and now, Gianluca Cazzin,is bringing his wealth of foodie knowledge and skills to Frankie’s kitchen as the new Chef de Cuisine. Chef Gianluca has had a passion for cooking, since his early teens, and started working in a pro kitchen at the age of 18. Though he’s worked in restaurants worldwide, it was his one-year stint as sous chef in Milan, working with Gualtiero Marchesi – the first Italian chef to be awarded three Michelin- stars – where Chef Gianluca picked up a range of gastronomic techniques.

“The aim you need to have is excellence… this is possible in a kitchen by reformulating both ideas and cooking concepts all the time” – Chef Gianluca.

We’re excited to taste what he’s prepared for us and first on the table is a bright and beautiful plate of fennel & orange salad with imperial king crab & Mediterranean herbal. “The menu I wanted to present to you today is a tribute to my home land of Italy,” he says. “From the North to the South, from the sea to the Alps.” We’re told that this salad is made up of King Crab which is a typical ingredient in Venice; it’s enriched by oranges like in Southern Italy, and, finally, the scent of wild herbs is prominent in the Mediterranean. The salad is breathtakingly fresh and the combination of flavours is unlike anything we’ve tasted before – we’re off to a wonderful start.

We ask what Chef Gianluca hopes to achieve at Frankie’s. He replies: “The Gianluca vision in terms of Italian food is not like a fine-dining plate because, for me, Italian cuisine has a lot to do with the region where the product is coming from. When the product is so authentic, you should do less with it.” A sound philosophy and one that stands out in the next dish; saffron risotto & grilled red shrimp from Sicily. This dish gets our mouths watering, instantly; it’s a tribute to South Italy and a small village near the Etna volcano named Zafferana – it’s where the saffron comes from. The delicious, bright-red shrimp is very special as it can only be found some 800m below sea level – it tastes exquisite.

We notice that Chef Gianluca is not only giving us tasty dishes, but they’re also immaculately presented. “Taste and presentation must walk together,” he says. “Even if we’re busy at the restaurant, we make no compromises. Next up is homemade ravioli, braised veal cheek & mashed potatoes. A hearty dish that pays homage to the Alps – we absolutely love it. We see that ingredients are a key role to Chef Gianluca’s cooking. “The first step is to make sure that we have the right ingredients in place,” he says. “This is the key to good recipes. There are ingredients that you can’t substitute like Parmigiano-Reggiano [parmesan cheese], buffalo mozzarella, or burrata – these are truly traditional Italian products and so we have to import them. “On the other hand, in this part of the world there are very good fruits and vegetables that you don’t need to source from Italy. Eggplant, tomatoes, you name it. These will all be sourced locally.”

We end with the master of all Italian desserts – the Frankie’s Tiramisu. A trio of sweet treats contended by the three Italian regions of Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont, whipping together coffee and mascarpone cheese for a scrumptious delight – it was absolute food heaven. “I’m very confident in the direction that we’re going by focusing on quality ingredients, consistency of the plating, and having the right team,” Chef Gianluca says. “With all this in place we’ll take Frankie’s to the next level.” After trying his food, we don’t doubt that for a second!