Culinary stars converging on Beijing for Italian food feast
Beijing fans of Italian food may think they've stumbled onto the set of Who's Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?. Like in that 1978 film, a star chef with a grand accent can be found in every direction if you're eating in one of the capital's top Italian restaurants.
The eighth annual Italian Cuisine World Summit, a celebration of Italian food and lifestyle, is going on the road this year, kicking off in Beijing after a Hong Kong preview.
After an opening gala dinner at the Kempinski hotel's Via Roma restaurant on Tuesday, there are dinner events at five other restaurants in Beijing and one in Tianjin, plus a master class by master butcher Simone Fracassi (Via Roma) and a qualifying event for the Italian World Pizza Summit (La Pizza).
"Having so many events over several days will give Beijingers many opportunities to experience classic Italian cuisine," says a Beijing-based chef close to the event planners. "Many five-star hotels fly in Michelin-starred chefs for one night or maybe two, but here people can follow the excitement via social media. You can try a different menu at a different restaurant each night."
Paolo Gramaglia, Vincenzo Guarino, Fortunato Ostacolo, Daniele Repetti and Fracassi will be guest master chefs at Via Roma for the gala opening dinner.
Two of the chefs coming to Beijing have three Michelin stars in each of their toques: Italy's Heinz Beck and Hong Kong-based Umberto Bombana. They will team up for a special dinner at Opera Bombana on Wednesday only.
"It's a lot to organize," says La Pizza owner Gennaro Miele, who has spent 10 years developing a wholesale supply chain from Italy for his three Beijing restaurants and for Italian chefs around the country.
"When you have someone like Heinz Beck coming," he adds, "you have to make sure you have the proper stuff - the olive oil he uses, the right cheeses, all that."
Repetti will be cooking at Peking Cafe on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Gramaglia will be in the Flames kitchen at the Hilton Beijing Wangfujing on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Ostacolo will be at La Pizza Wednesday and Thursday.
Luciano Monosilio and Guarino will be at Cepe in the Ritz-Carlton Financial Street on Saturday, with Monosilio staying on the following four nights.
Via Roma, site of the opening gala dinner on Tuesday, will also host Fracassi on Thursday, and Guarino (wine dinner) on Friday.
Tianjin events, at Bella Vita restaurant, will feature the pizza wizard Tesauro on Thursday; Fracassi and Ostacolo will take over host Samuele Rossi's kitchen on Friday; a quartet of the guest chefs will team up for a "summit farewell party" on Saturday night.
Contact individual restaurants for times and prices.