He is known all over the world for his magnificent pasta dishes. We have met one of the finest chefs in the world, Maestro Gianluigi Dotti.
– I live in heaven! Mr. Dotti says about his life. – To make food is all I ever wanted to do. All my life has concentrated on this. It is my first thought in the morning and my last thought before I go to sleep. My best dreams are about food, good food.
We are in the kitchen of Gianluigi’s own restaurant i Napoli. He seems to be in constant movement while talking, right now he is chopping chili. It is as if he is comfortable only when he is busy preparing food.
Gianluigi Dotti is a rather fat, middle-aged man, his head is bald on top with a long pony-tail at the back and a huge moustache in front, and the moustache seems to be attached to a bright smile… He really became famous when he won the Bocuse d’or, the world cup for cooks.
– How did you feel when you won the Bocuse d’or?
– Oh, I felt wonderful! This moment is my treasure, I will keep it forever. It was a tremendous honour for me to win – I beat the French on their homeground, you know!
– Can you describe your winning dishes?
– Oh yes! The antipasta was a pasta, too, a tagliatelle with butterfried asparagus, lemon, garlic and chili. The pasta very al dente and the asparagus, lemon juice, garlic and chili fried for twenty-five seconds exactly – very important, not a second more, just to release the flavour – together with olive oil, a good piece of butter, and basil. A very tasty dish. A piece of poetry. For the main course I made a pizza with peperoni. I make the pastry as thin as fine paper, you know, spread the pomodoro – the sauce made from the best tomatoes with chili and garlic, always chili and garlic – then cover the surface completely with a very special peperoni together with onion and red onion, and sprinkle it generously with basil, oregano and thyme. And finally: my own mozzarella, a secret. What more can I say? This is music. For dessert I made a salade de fruits flambée – well, I had to put in spomething French, you see – with honey semi-freddo, which is an Italian specialty…
He goes on to describe this dish in great detail, but he speaks so fast, and I lose track of the things and ways and whys. Mr. Dotti does get very enthousiastic when he talks about food.
The Pasta King says that he always wanted to cook.
– I made my first dinner when I was six years old. It was not a masterpiece, I must admit, but it was not bad. Not bad at all.
He speaks a fluent and quite understandable English, his Italian accent only spices it up.
– Do you have a favourite dish?
– Food! Everything you can eat is a favourite. But I must say: my lasagna is very good…
Gianluigi, or just Luigi as he is called, has already made a delicious dish with fusilli and prawns. Now he starts preparing a new dish, and again he begins by chopping chili.
– Yes, I use a lot of garlic and chili when I cook. Some people find it too hot, like people from your country, I think, from Sweden. But I think it gives a wonderful taste to everything. How can you make decent food without garlic? And what is garlic without chili?
His restaurant, “La piccola pasta”, is really very small, and many people wonder why he has made this choice. After all, with a famous name like his he could have run a big business?
– I don’t like big things, they scare me. I am the only one who works in this kitchen, and for me that is important. Since I serve so few guests at a time, I can give them better service. And I prefer to work alone – except when I cook together with my son at home.
I ask which dishes he makes in his restaurant, and Dotti answers that he can make anything – sometimes he even let his guests choose freely. But most of the guests want pasta or pizza.
Every time he finishes talking, he looks up into the ceiling, waiting for my next question – but he never stops chopping, cutting, stirring, beating or whatever he is doing at the moment. His gaze makes me throw a glance to the ceiling, too. It is yellow. The walls, however, are painted in a bright turqoise colour. This is a colourful and cheerful room, with a lot of light.
– Have you ever thought of writing a book? You must have recipes enough for several?