Tuesday 23 December 2014

Meeting Mario Batali at Osteria Mozza - Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Thanks to Marina Bay Sands in Singapore; I recently had a chance to meet and chat with Chef Mario Batali! 

This was most exciting and I was already thinking about some quick fire questions as I made my way to his restaurant; Osteria Mozza, in Marina Bay Sands.

For those of you who aren't sure who Mario Batali is; you might've seen the TV show Iron Chef America, where he makes appearances. He also has his signature look that consists of Shorts and Orange coloured Crocs. Along with his classical culinary training, Chef Mario is an expert in Italian cuisine and has restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong and Westport. 

When I arrived; the staff were really nice and said as I was a bit early, I could sit at the bar with a drink and wait. This was great as I could see the other Chefs in action. The smell of the Pizzas were very alluring! The Roasted Vine Tomatoes I had in front of me; as you'll see in the picture below, were really hard to resist as well. They were so fresh!

Pretty soon though; we were whisked into a private dining area, and given a glass of Prosecco. This was fantastic; no complaints from me ;) We were also given a copy of Chef Mario's latest book so this was a very good opportunity to get a signed copy of it too. The plan was coming together. 

After a few sips of Prosecco; Chef Mario arrived! The group of us were most amused that he did indeed stay true to form and had on his Shorts and Orange Crocs :)

With a big smile on his face he proclaimed "Who wants their book signed?" I didn't have to be asked twice :)

Chef Mario was very happy to share stories and his passion for cooking. 

He was very fond of getting good Singapore food around the Geylang area and sitting on the plastic stools at the Hawkers whilst eating his Chilli Crab. He also gets recognised by people and this is becoming more frequent in Singapore.

He finds that Singapore food can still be very innovative and mentioned that he loves Durian Sambal. The group of us were surprised; Durian Sambal, there is really such a thing?

Chef Mario was just as surprised; "You've got to try it." At which point he promptly disappeared and came back with spoons and a plastic container. What a surprise when inside was Durian Sambal. The Durian smell was quite distinctive. The group gathered around for a sniff and then a cautious tasting. 

It was actually really nice and the heat from the Chilli complemented the richness of the Durian very well and maybe even suppressed the Durian smell a bit. The things we learn!

As I said; I had a few quick fire questions for Chef :)

My first question was: Carbonara; with Cream, right or wrong?

There was a stunned look on Chef's face and a shocked gasp from the group.

The obvious answer is wrong! Cream just isn't needed and isn't authentic as the richness of a sauce can be achieved with Eggs and Parmigiano-Reggiano. At his restaurants, Chef Mario never uses Cream in any of his Pasta dishes. Thumbs up here!

My second question: Pineapple on Pizza; right or wrong?

This one actually got Chef thinking a bit. He admits that it isn't authentic but has really fond memories of the Hawaiian Delight Pizza at Shakey's. Sounds like Chef isn't adverse to some Pineapple on Pizza from time to time ;) 

In fact; at Osteria Mozza, their Pizza al Benno has Speck, Pineapple, Jalapeño, Mozzarella and Tomato. Chef Mario generously decided that we must taste that too; and asked for some Pizza al Benno to be prepared! 

When it made its appearance, the Pizza al Benno was amazing. The crust and base was perfectly crispy; signs of a Pizza Oven that is at a perfect temperature, and the ingredients were super fresh. The Speck had wonderful fat through it and cured with a wonderful saltiness. The Pineapple was also fresh, not from a tin. It had been sliced fresh from the actual fruit. It was a real treat.

It was a fantastic afternoon of Prosecco, Books, Pizza and a chance to chat with Chef Mario Batali. 

A big thank you to the team at Marina Bay Sands for the opportunity and the Osteria Mozza team for their hospitality. 

Can't wait to visit Osteria Mozza again :)

Anyone out there who is also a fan of Chef Mario Batali?


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