Interview with the chef who loves his land: Franco Moscardini, Executive Chef of Q'4rt Restaurant
Dining at the Q'Art Restaurant at the Oxford Hotel in Rome means embarking on a delightful sensory journey through the flavors, aromas and colors of traditional Roman and regional Italian cuisine.
The Executive Chef Franco Moscardini welcomes its guests with courses cooked with inspiration, imagination and raw materials of the highest quality, in perfect balance between tradition and gastronomic innovation.
You can taste the strong dishes, represented by the cornerstones of the Roman tradition (Mezze maniche alla carbonara, Spaghetti all'amatriciana, Tonnarelli cheese and pepper and the authentic Saltimbocca alla romana), to continue with the experiments of the chef like Tuna Tartare, avocado and chives, saffron pistachio risotto and pumpkin flowers, tuna shrimps and ginger, and grilled salmon steak with coriander sauce.
A special mention reserved to the delicious desserts, all prepared by the expert hands of the Chef such as Cream caramel, Semifreddo with citrus fruits and the "divine" Tiramisu.
Finally, there are proposals for those who have food intolerances, both vegetarian and vegan.
We leave the word to the chef ...
Q: WHO IS FRANCO MOSCARDINI? WHERE IT IS BORN, WHAT HAS BEEN ITS ROUTE ...
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: I was born in Rome; my parents were originally from Villa San Lorenzo in Flaviano, fraction of Amatrice, a city with an important culinary tradition that we inherited all in the family.
I attended the hotel school here in Rome and, after graduation, I immediately started working to get "experience " at the Polo Club, then at the Tennis Club, at the American Embassy and at other clubs in Rome.
Later I entered the Circolo degli Scacchi in Via Del Corso, a prestigious private circle reserved for the Roman aristocracy and personalities of the intellectual world, where I stayed for about twenty years.
In these years I learned the secrets of traditional Roman cuisine and, working for the Circolo degli Scacchi where on many occasions they organized thematic dinners and to satisfy the wishes of members from different Italian regions, I also specialized in Italian regional cuisine, which offered me the opportunity to draw on a vast array of recipes and culinary techniques!
In recent years I have approached the world of Hotellerie and, after working for some restaurants in hotels in Rome, I finally arrived at the Q'Art Restaurant of the Hotel Oxford in Via Veneto, where I can express myself in total freedom.
Q: IS THE Q'ART RESTAURANT ALSO OPEN TO EXTERNAL CUSTOMERS OR ONLY TO OXFORD HOTEL GUESTS?
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: The restaurant is open especially to the outdoors! In the area there are many offices, Embassies and shops; At lunch time we welcome many lawyers, notaries, employees and some of our most loyal customers. At dinner, then, when tourists have finished their visits to the city, they too are added, asking us in particular for the great dishes of the Roman tradition.
Q: HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: What can I say ... surely I am a person who loves doing his job, very passionate! And, I think, it is a fundamental requirement for any cook ... it is a job also made of sacrifices, with many, many satisfactions where however you have to give up many things - special times, work during the holidays, have some free time when other people they normally work - and if it lacks dedication and passion it becomes too difficult to sustain.
And then I'm a very helpful person, I like helping others ... some friends tell me I'm too good ... [ laughs ] Even as a chef, with some young guys who come to work in the kitchen ... while you need to be strict and rigorous in order to learn what a chef must know how to do.
In recent years the culinary art, thanks to television broadcasts as "Master Chef", has certainly received a lot of visibility and consequently much more attention than before, even among young people who dream of commanding a kitchen brigade. However, it may happen that the boys misrepresent things and think they can skip the basics, getting a little 'big headed in the belief that they can already do everything; while then they can not even cook a spaghetto with garlic and oil or a tomato and basil pasta as they should ... This is what I think seeing as I had to work hard to gain experience and assimilate as much as possible from people who have taught me so much.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR MASTER IN THE KITCHEN?
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: I come from a family of chefs: my grandfather was a roaster and my father worked for many years as a chef at the Circolo degli Scacchi from which I too started. So I think it was tradition or fate that I followed their footsteps watching them, from an early age, and learning the craft day after day. When I started working "seriously" I was followed by the then Vice-President of the Italian Chefs Federation, Mr. Piso, who took me under his wing and taught me all the secrets of culinary art.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLATE? WHAT DO YOU PREFER TO COOK.
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: I like to cook all dishes ... every dish has something special that gives me satisfaction and pleasure that I cook to perfection, so that customers are satisfied. Q'Art is very popular for "simple" dishes [ he says ... ] like Amatriciana. And this is because I prepare it respecting the tradition and the raw materials of the place of origin, which is also that of my parents.
They tell me that the desserts I cook are also very successful. For me, the pastry is a personal journey, in the sense that I studied the recipes, the procedures, the various ways, the ingredients and the cooking time, without doing any courses.
Q: ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT IN THE KITCHEN? IF THERE IS ONE…
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: the most important ingredient, or better, the main ingredients in the kitchen are the basics: oil, for example, must be of absolute quality. With oil everything is done, it is essential for the success of a good dish; everything can be brought to an excellent level if the foundations are solid.
D: AND WHAT WILL BE THE KITCHEN OF THE FUTURE?
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: For me I think we will return to the origins, to simplicity, because I realize that people are talking about different environments of insects, molecular cuisine, food design ... but I think it is a type of cuisine that perhaps can only be of interest to some people. In the sense that ordinary people, at any level, are increasingly looking for tradition; what really is wanted in the kitchen is the authenticity of the dishes, cooked with the ingredients, the techniques and the "original" recipes, rather than seeking sophistication.
People want to rediscover "real" flavors that can make them "journey through time". I speak of my experience in the field, being in direct contact with the clients; and if there are changes in the kitchen, towards these types of "tasteless" kitchens, then the restaurant guests always ask me for less complicated and sophisticated dishes.
Q: WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES YOU SHOULD HAVE A CHEF?
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: First of all a Chef must be professional, he must always be very careful and precise in the kitchen. Then he must absolutely love his job, because this is a world of passion without which no dish will be good. Finally, fantasy is essential in the kitchen, for the combination of ingredients and dishes, to experiment and find the right combinations that can substantially change a flavor. The imagination and the inspiration are still used in the presentation of the dishes, which are also pleasing to the eye.
Basically, for me, the Chef is the artist!
Q: WHAT IS THE ONLY BOOK THAT EVERY CHEF SHOULD READ?
FRANCO MOSCARDINI: Without a doubt "Il Cucchiaio d'Argento".
Do you want to try the cuisine of Chef Franco Moscardini?
The Chef is waiting for you at lunch and dinner at the Q'4rt Restaurant at the Oxford Hotel in Rome