CityRoom August 27, 2011

Interview with Chef Corti Stefano

of Acqua Dolce Café Restaurant in Lake Como

August 27th, 2011

Lake Como is one of those destinations you’ve read about in books, seen in movies, and possibly visited. The charm, elegance, and romance that surround this luxury destination continuously attract the avid explorer of Italian cuisine and treasures.

A new restaurant is now on the Lake Como scene, Acqua Dolce. In researching its concept and name, I discovered, “In Italian, the two words mean fresh water, referring to the water of the lake, but also sweet, gentle, tender water referring to the idyllic atmosphere of that part of the lake…”

George Clooney must agree on the location, as his villa is just 3 km away.

Acqua Dolce has a glass veranda that overlooks the lake and its private dock. Its menu was developed by starred Michelin chef, Mauro Eli, and boasts a sixty label wine list.

The restaurant was designed to have two moments—day and night. During the day, offerings are snacks and a cafeteria menu.  This transforms at night to cocktails and an à-la-carte menu, based on local ingredients and a creative kitchen.

In determining who would head up the kitchen, the choice was Chef Corti Stefano. Naturally, I wanted to discover more about this chef who works in such a wonderful environment.

CityRoom: How did you get started cooking and know you wanted to become a chef?

Chef: When I was a child, my grandmother started teaching me the basic recipes of the Italian tradition. At 14 years old, I decided my future, to be a chef.  For this reason, I enrolled myself at the local Culinary Institute in Como.

CR: Do you focus on local ingredients?

Chef: My preference goes to the local products; in any case, my choice always focuses on seasonal products.

CR: What is your favorite cooking utensil?

Chef: The pasta maker machine.

CR: What has been your biggest ah ha moment in the field?

Chef: Before being appointed as chef at Acqua Dolce, I was lucky to have been working for 4 years in the restaurants of Gualtiero Marchesi, the most famous among the Italian chefs. I started as a trainer for 3 months during the summer previous, my last year at school and, immediately after the diploma, he called me back for a 6-month training period. At the end, I definitively entered in the brigade of his restaurant.

After L’Albereta, I moved to his newly opened restaurant in Milan, Il Marchesino, located by the Teatro Alla Scala. After one year, I decided to go back to my lake (I live in Carate Urio, where Acqua Dolce Restaurant is located) and accept the chef position offered. When I was student at the Culinary Institute, I dreamed of one day, being the chef there.

CR: Do you have a favorite type of food?

Chef: I love cooking pasta, risotto, and most of the first courses that are part of our Italian tradition.

CR: What recommendation would you give aspiring chefs?

Chef: You must have passion for this job that requires a lot of effort and sacrifice. We must put aside our personal life and be always concentrated on the profession, keeping up to date and giving the best of ourselves.

CR: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Chef: Creating new dishes, new recipes that can satisfy the taste of the various clients.

CR: What is the most difficult part of your job?

Chef: To create harmony in the kitchen among the staff of the brigade. Order, organize, keep the group together and encourage them to give the best of themselves.

CR: Where do you eat when you are not working?

Chef: I love to go to local restaurants and enjoy simple homemade dishes.

Ristorante Acqua Dolce   Via Regina, 26 – 22010 Carate Urio (CO) Italy- +39 031 400260


…Stay tuned for three brilliant recipes from Chef Corti Stefano on CityRoomStories / Gourmet

Freelance travel writer Maralyn D. Hill, The Epicurean Explorer, is President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. Maralyn focuses on food, spas, travel, and wine, while still covering meetings, incentives, and corporate assignments.

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