|This week we got up close and personal with Executive Chef Rocco Evola on the dining and food culture at the Hilton Mauritius.|
In an effort to understand a bit more how a Italian restaurant run by a Italian chef integrates into island life, we ask Rocco about his food background in Europe as well as if and how he integrates local Indian ocean ingredients into his Italian menu.
Read our interview with Rocco below.
1. Which part of Italy are you from ? My Father comes from Sicily and my mother from Sardinia where I grew. After my studies, I left Sardinia for Europe and worked in various cities, from North Germany down to South of France. I arrived in Mauritius end of 2003 and fell into passion for this island and its products.
2. Do you have access to all the traditional ingredients you would like in Mauritius ? I don’t have major difficulties to find my regional products as Mauritius facilitates importations and I have good relations with the suppliers .
3. Do you make use of locally grown fruits and vegetables in your restaurant ? We have 4 different restaurants at the Hilton : Pomme d’Amour offering American buffet breakfast daily and 14 different themes for buffet dinner, Coquillages for lunch on the beach offering the catch of the day, fresh salads and snacks, Ginger Thai offering authentic thai food and Melanzane offering fine dining Italian cuisine.
We use a lot local vegetable and fruits in all restaurants. We offer fresh squeezed juices every morning at breakfast and whole day on the beach with the juice bar !
4. Seafood is a big part of Italian cooking ! Have you found suitable local fish for your Italian recipes ? Have you had to make any recipe modifications to use local fish ? The great variety of the local seafood and fishes can be very easily adapted to the Italian style cuisine so no major modification needed !
5. Is there any Mauritian ingredients and or techniques you have incorporated into Italian recipes ? In terms of ingredients we use several local vegetables such as the christophine in puree, heart of palm braised, the dark muscovado sugar for my sauces for the rack of lamb (from Australia) and of course, lot of spices !
I also prepare some ravioli with lobster vindaloo, I accompany the angus beef with some samoussas wit braised beef and cinnamon, I make a foie gras terrine with pineapple and bio vanilla, I marinate the red snapper fillet roasted with creole mix and serve it with braised bread fruit in a seafood Mauritian bisque … and so many others !
6. If you could order one dish from your restaurant – what would it be ? I would choose the Tango of the sea because I like the king prawns, it’s an excellent product combined with the heart of palm tree and pink pepper honey : creative fusion !
For dessert, I would select the Dome of Venice, which is a very nice chocolate combination, dark and milk … Of course, served with our home made limoncello.
Shall I order for a second person ? Thank you very much for your time.
VisitMauritius.com.au would like to say a big thanks to Rocco and the Hilton team for their time !
Read some of our older Mauritius food stories here : Mauritian and Creole Cuisine – a blend of the exotic | Mauritian Food interview with BBC MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo
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