Can you smell what this amazing chef and friends are cooking?

As foodie dining event Enrico Bartolini and Friends returns to the capital on 7th February, we chat to the man behind it all to find out what’s cooking and his most memorable dish

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From simple sun-ripened tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to hearty plates of pasta and tiramisu – one spoon please – we reckon there’s a lot to celebrate about Italian food.

If you feel the same as us, then returning event Enrico Bartolini and Friends on 7th February will be right up your street.

Hosted at Roberto’s, the quarterly foodie experience invites guest chefs from all over Italy to cook up some of the country’s best cuisine alongside chef Enrico in a special collaborative dining event.

With two chefs in the kitchen lending their own spin to three courses each of Italian cuisine, this time it’s chef Antonio Pirozzi who will be joining the fray with a menu of rustic cooking, while chef Enrico will be dishing up some classics with a contemporary twist alongside it.

To find out more, we chat to chef Enrico.

You’ll be hosting Enrico Bartolini and Friends with visiting chefs in February. What can we expect from this collaboration and how does the event allow each chef to showcase their personal style?

The preparation of the event usually starts one-and-a-half months in advance. First, we develop the idea of the evening, then we explain it to our guest chef. They will send me their vision and idea for the menu – then we get started working together towards the common goal of creating a unique experience for our guests. Our first evening with chef Alfio Ghezzi was a beautiful evening in Roberto’s Abu Dhabi. I look forward to many more similar experiences!

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In Abu Dhabi, we’re all huge fans of food from shawarma to gourmet dining. What will this event bring to our already vibrant food culture?

We believe that this experience is something worth trying at least once in your life. You will learn the idea and complex concepts behind a simple dish that you never thought about before. As chefs, we always try to deliver a message in each plate and it is our job to make sure our guest will get that message. We also know that not everyone can travel to Italy and eat in a two Michelin-star restaurant, so at Roberto’s we are committed to bringing that experience to our guests here in Abu Dhabi, as it is a gift to have that kind of dining experience. We’re developing quite a young food culture here.

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What is your advice for aspiring chefs in Abu Dhabi that want to showcase their country’s cuisine to its full potential?

To be truthful to their heritage and roots and to keep delivering the best to their guests without compromise. Nowadays, here in the Middle East, we can find products from all around the world. It’s a chef’s responsibility to treat the ingredient with respect to get the best out of it. You must have travelled all over the world trying new flavours.

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Aside from your native cuisine, do you have a food or meal from another culture that stands out?

Every time I travel, I always taste the traditional food because it gives me the real feel for the history in that particular country. I am always impressed by very simple food. I still remember the gazpacho that I had in Spain many years ago done by an extraordinary chef. It was one of the most simple and delicious foods I’ve ever had.

Enrico Bartolini and Friends will return to Roberto’s at The Galleria, Al Maryah Island on 7th February with guest chef Antonio Pirozzi from 7pm. Prices start from AED 495 for six courses, reservations essential. For more information, contact: 02 627 9009, reservationsauh@robertos.ae

WORDS Camille Hogg

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