Interview: Alessandro Gavagna, La Subida, Cormons (Italy)
Alessandro Gavagna is chef at the family restaurant & estate La Subida in Cormons in the North-East of Italy, close to the Slovenian border. He has married into the legendary Sirk family (he is married with Joško Sirk’s daughter Tanja) and is following the Sirk family tradition with all his passion and talent. This young chef which cultivates a big respect for the tradition and territory unites great technical skills with deep sensibility and a lot of creativity and is more then worth the Michelin star which La Subida carries with pride.
What has brought you into the culinary world and how did you decide to become a chef?
…. the fact that since my young age I had my hands all the time in pasta ….
How would you describe the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is most typical about it?
Innovation and tradition.
The basic plates of my cuisine are plates of the territory, cuisine of the border where there is encounter and melting of the Mediterranean cuisine, the Central European, Friulian and Slovenian cuisine. I put a lot of attention to the prominent evolution of the contemporary culinary world, to the selection of the best ingredients and to territory by creating plates which recreate the delicate equilibrium of flavours which are typical for the world of the borders.
Tradition is elaborated after a deep study, enriched with the “new”, the “new” which was not created to amaze but to value the most subtle and refined accents of the flavours of this precious crossroads of cultures. Ingredients, but also flavours of territory are to be preserved and valuated in this patrimony of distinctions – a uniqueness.
Let’s go to your childhood. Are there any memories, tastes, flavours, which are important for your creations of today?
I was born in Friuli, in my cuisine there are all the perfumes and flavours of my land … from the herbs from the fields, wild flowers, but also spices, rite of the pork, the forest and game …
Are there any ingredients that you are specially fond of and which you use more often?
Flowers and wild herbs.
Who were your tutors and mentors? Who has influenced you the most and how?
In primis the ladies of Collio who introduced me to the traditional cuisine as the steady point and at the same time as starting point for the reinterpretation; and then a great chef as much as friend Walter Eynard.
Who/what is inspiring you today?
The continuous research to make in my plates alive the traditional products and recipes which were forgotten – vermicelli from carob flour, tadpoles, crumbs of the thrown pasta …
Creativity and technique. What is more important for you and why?
The traditional cuisine as the steady point and at the same time as starting point for the reinterpretation, so important is to not trivialize the tradition and to not refuse the innovation which is able to stimulate tradition itself.
What’s your favourite dish?
I don’t have one prefered plate. Also the plates which delight me most follow the changes of seasons. In spring: the wild herbs in all their expressions, for example sheaf of hops, spiced-up bread and perfumes of the fields. In summer: tadpoles, crumbs of the thrown pasta, pumpkin flowers, zucchini and flowers of the wild garlic. In autumn: game – for example hare, chessnuts and cacao beans. In winter: perfumes of the dried fruit, vermicelli from carob flour, dried apples and nuts.
What was your biggest success?
The greatest recognitions come from the appreciation of the guests, but of course I can’t forget also the wonderful emotions for the Michelin star.
Do you have any realizable or realized dreams?
I’m lucky to be able to do what I love.
And then concrete: a nice vacation, a trip to Amazonia, to visit a dear friend and to discover an infinite world of perfumes, flavours and emotions.
Do you have also any unrealizable dream?
Dreams help us to live, we should always be lucky enough to be able to continue dreaming …
If you wouldn’t be a chef, what would you do?
I don’t know what else would I do, nothing else gives me as much fun as cooking … as a child I loved to take apart mopeds, maybe this could be an alternative …