Lorenzo Carlino, the new executive chef at One Restaurant, understands the importance of quality. During his seven years as the senior chef at “Vesna” – one of Moscow’s top restaurants – his customers included President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin as well as international celebrities such as Giorgio Armani, Enrique Iglesias and Patricia Kaas.
Of Italian background but raised in Brussels, Lorenzo is only beginning his second month in Porto Montenegro but has already created a name for himself by serving up authentic dishes with unmistakable flair. He recently sat down to discuss his ambitions for One as well as his new life on the Mediterranean: [Translated from French]
PM: You joined One in November when the summer season was effectively over. How have you found the experience so far?
LC: I prefer to think of it as having arrived six months ahead of the next season, which is a great benefit in that it provides an opportunity to experiment with dishes and build relationships with suppliers. I’m also able to spend time with my team, teaching them new techniques that will allow the kitchen to function much more efficiently in peak periods.
PM: How would you describe your style of cooking?
LC: Simple and high quality. I like to have fun with presentation but the main ingredient – whether it’s a meat or fish – should always be the focus. Anything else on the plate should just complement or enhance it.
PM: Can you give some examples?
LC: We currently offer pork medallions: excellent quality tenderloin, farm-raised in the interior of Montenegro. We glaze them in a very light orange sauce – because it complements the meat so beautifully – and that’s all. We serve that with a side of courgettes, which also complement the meat in terms of both taste and texture. Similarly, our fish soup is very simple: a prawn bouillon with water, parsley, garlic, tomato and generous pieces of red snapper. These work so well together, nothing else is needed!
PM: What is your goal for One Restaurant?
LC: To offer the best value between quality and price, but also to please our customers by offering good food in new ways.
PM: Is there a secret to achieving that?
LC: Sourcing is key. We focus on quality and work with our suppliers to ensure that it is maintained. We also avoid storing and freezing wherever possible. We cook everything fresh. For example: soups are made every day, never left over; we don’t pre-cook our burgers and then re-heat … that would be faster, but it sacrifices taste and quality.
PM: At One, do you draw more upon your Belgian or Moscow experiences?
LC: My sense of whimsy comes from Moscow but I’ve always preferred brasserie-style food. It’s at least as important to focus on classic dishes as to experiment with new ones. At One we have a Club Sandwich, roast chicken, salads and various items for sharing, like calamari or French fries. In some ways, these are harder because people have very personal ideas of – for example – what a Club Sandwich should be. So we really work hard to get these right.
PM: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
LC: The availability of certain produce, although I understand that this is constantly improving. What I’m looking for are more diverse items, like certain herbs, black rice and lemongrass … items that can complement local produce in new ways. For me, that is exciting… hopefully our customers will think so too.
PM: What drew you to Porto Montenegro?
LC: First, I love the country and the people, who have been so welcoming. After seven years in Moscow, the opportunity to live on the sea, surrounded by beautiful mountains, was very appealing. Then, Porto Montenegro is the ideal location because of its mix of local and international clientele. This seems the best venue to introduce new dishes and new ways of cooking, because customers expect and appreciate that kind of progressive mentality.