A talk with Andrea Aprea
The neapolitan Chef with 2 Michelin stars opens for us the doors of his world made of craftsmanship and hard work.
Andrea Aprea, Executive Chef of Vun, the luxury restaurant at the Hotel Park Hyatt Milano, thanks to its technique and innovation, combined with simplicity and respect for the flavors of Italian cuisine, has managed to conquer the two most sought-after and recognized stars in the world of catering.With Neapolitan origins, now rooted in the Milanese metropolis, from whose dialect derives the name of its restaurant (Vun or One), the chef Aprea opens the doors of his world made of craftsmanship, dedication and perseverance.The success of his creations is a real fusion of flavors and contemporaneity, without ever neglecting the traditions.
Children from an early age have a dream in their drawer. About the be an astronaut, who the fireman, who the doctor. Have you always wanted to be a chef?
Look basically there are two aspects. Or you're a genius like Mozart, for example, or you're passionate about cultivating it. As a child I had this passion, and so I cultivated it. Challenging route because it is like all crafts, so there is a great need for dedication, effort, hard work... one of those jobs where you work, while others have fun. Only a strong passion can push you to do it. You have to wake up every morning and you must like what you are going to do, you must love it. Here, when you do not feel the same and that moment ends you have to bring some questions.
Where did this passion come from?
The passion is certainly born from a character that was predisposed to face a path of both private and professional life, because in any case we do not forget that today there is a different media approach to our work. 25 years ago when I started it was not like that. Some years ago they were all lawyers, doctors, engineers ... but the difference is that the communication is totally wrong nowadays. The correct message does not pass to the young person.The young must see and must know that, sure, there may be mediaticity, but that at the end, however, you will have 12 hours of work in the kitchen.
What advice do you give to the guys for who want to reach your levels, whether it is sacrifice or dedication and above all, how much according to you this mediaticity has influenced in positive or negative the figure of the chef.
Look, let's start from the current state. Mediaticity issue. For me in all the things that are done, it is the use and abuse that hurts. Young people who approach in this way are certainly attracted to this (in part), then there are truly those who understand the spirit of sacrifice and that point decides whether to be in or out. Teaching takes. You must understand, study the processes. The ABC. I am a chef with a cross training ... you must be complete and ready to face any problem and need. My advice is: basic education, which must give you the knowledge and must prepare. But you need to pay your dues, prepare for it, there will be a lot. It’s really important. The job as a chef is a team work, there is a hierarchy of jobs, even roles in the kitchen, which in reality is more a hierarchy of respect. To deprive yourself of time is a great gift you make to yourself, but also that you do to others. '' In the end you for what and for whom you cook? '' To give emotions ... or at least try ... but anyway you do it for others.I believe this is the fundamental aspect.To all the guys who work with me, already from the first interview on stage, I advise them that they will be 6 months of full immersion ... I open my book to them. But it is a giving and having. Otherwise they waste time. They must have the maximum learning ability in those 6 months.In the last 3 years, 4 internships have been hired ... now they work with me. Scouting is essential, training is essential.
So, 3 characteristics that you think should have a good chef.
At the basis, sure, it needs to be of the passion. Second feature, is the character (also intended as balance of knowing how to manage relationships), to be a good chef yes you have to cook well, you have to convey emotions, but at the basis of all this, do not cook for yourself, you cook for an audience , so you have responsibilities also with and for your staff. The restaurant is an activity. It has to stand up, it takes a certain amount of management and you have to have a managerial relationship with your co-workers. Already there you have to have character ... you must be a leader, otherwise '' You will go with small octuposes in the pan '' (ndr Neapolitan expression to express when things are not right). Finally, in my opinion, all the glue of this is the constancy that ultimately rewards.This is the basis, because you can give 100% today ... but the perseverance determines the quality.
Mother's day has just passed. There is something that reminds you of your kitchen.
Look, I'm a chef, but each of us, even if he chose another profession in his life, lives on memories and feelings related to food. For all of us, food is at the daily basis. ''In the end what do we remember on Sunday morning when we were children? ''The smell of italian ragù cooked by mom. That is tradition. Then of course a person can remember these memories or not and then express in a profession, as I have done, but we are all connected by a memory related to food ... they are things that are inside of you. Like the Tortano (typical rustic bread from Campania with different types of cold cuts and cheeses inside). Now I will tell you the story of the Tortano: "Tortano was born as an Easter bakery product that was eaten after meat, but also because it was made with all the scraps of cured meats and cheeses and the sugna (ndr an animal fat as the EVO) that in the 1930s it became a complete meal, because it had all the nutrients. It is in our DNA. In ‘800 the professional figures were born to serve the nobles. Like the tailors, so also the chefs. The sharecroppers who ran the farms ... the noble cuts went to the rich families the waste of the whole part of the pig instead was used by the poor to make the sautèed. Food ties everyone's life and traditions remain even after centuries."
The strangest request that you received from a customer.
I have not had many and now I'll explain why. In my path, I met people as Obama’s, but in a starred restaurant like the Vun is a bit like when you enter a tailor's shop. If you asked a tailor to put buttons behind his shoulder, the tailor knows it's wrong to do it, so he will not do that. Same thing if you choose a restaurant like the Vun, you choose it because you know what you're going to meet. On the contrary, you want to be guided by the chef in that emotional and sensorial journey, which in the end is an experience, so it is not natural for you to make strange requests.
There is a big problem about waste. Especially in the important restaurants that are always a bit 'under the crosshairs of fooding associations. How do you relate to this problem?
Two years ago I was interviewed by Repubblica (n.d.r. known Italian magazine) during Expo on the waste issue. And I explained the same thing. We are the problem, the fast world. When you go to the supermarket and you're in a world of occasions, in the end it comes natural to buy more than what we consume, because attracted by the packages, short-term discounts ... the truth is that you must buy the necessary. Most of those expenses that we usually see in the carts, at the end of the week 30-40% are thrown away because the stuff is bad. The job of managing the refrigerator was first entrusted to the housewife, the housewife, who knew perfectly the consumption of family members. Now women work all day, there is a lack of time at the basis. First of all, to reduce the problem it would be to limit the needs upstream, second step would be to be able to reuse all the ingredients in various ways.For example, if you cook a risotto and you need to use vegetables, you could use the scraps for a broth or a sautèed . Of course, if you do not have a dimness with these things, you do not do them ... so I would say that there is also a need for basic experience to prevent waste. The grandmothers did not throw anything away. Here we should do as they do.