Culurgiones & Roasted Tomato Consommé by Chef Nicholas Reina, H&S Chef Of The Month
H&S Chef Of The Month
Bella Restaurant, Dubai
Interview With H&S Magazine
Who Is Nicholas Reina?
I am an Italian chef that has been working around the world, I am 28 and I am the head chef at Bella Restaurant in Dubai, where I prepare Italian fine-dining cuisine.
Type Of Cuisine?
My main type of cuisine stems from my Italian roots, which I believe gives me the common sense to use simple ingredients to bring out the maximum flavours. I also believe in “no wastage” and make use of all ingredients if not in the same recipe perhaps in another preparation. I developed the science part myself by studying about it, so it is easier for me to understand the ingredients very well and be very creative with them. I love cooking because it gives me some freedom to do whatever I have in my mind and to tantalize people’s taste buds & get the “wow” effect!
What Inspired You To Become A Chef?
I always wanted to be a chef since when I was a child, however, my grandmother inspired me and I remember she bought for me a small kitchen where I would pretend to be cooking as a kid. At 10 years of age, I would stand next to my grandmother and cook pasta, risotto, and all the other Italian traditional recipes with her.
What Is The Biggest Challenge You Have Faced In The Culinary Industry?
The biggest challenge has been going to new countries without knowing the languages and getting used to the new lifestyles, I have worked in 5, Michelin stars restaurants, out of which two of them are the best restaurants in the world. “The Fat Duck” Restaurant by Heston Blumenthal, has been one of the most significant experiences I ever had.
I went to London at the age of 21, & I couldn’t speak a word of English but I’ve learned English by putting my head down and believing that I can do it. I can’t say it has been easy, but it has been a challenge & I feel proud of myself for being able to overcome the language barrier.
I always invested in my career, I found myself at times, working for free, only to gain the experience. I have been at “Noma” in Copenhagen, one of the best restaurants in the world, where I was interested and got to learn about fermentation.
I also have good knowledge of bread and sourdough, I fell in love with that during the pandemic and I put all of me to understand the process of fermentation and I even had the opportunity to work in a bakery for a couple of months. I believe nothing is better than bread, bread is life!
What’s Your Biggest Achievement In The Culinary Industry?
The biggest achievement is to become a better version of myself and to not stop believing and dreaming.
Also, one of the things I am proud of is that I was able to build a strong mindset, which helped me grow personally, as a man and helped me think as a leader which then enabled me to push others to grow their talent including myself.
When It Comes To Cooking What Is More Important To You The Technique, The Ingredients, Or The Creativity?
One of the most important things for being a professional chef is to have the knowledge, to know the ingredients, to know the molecular parts, to know how to manage all of them. Only with the right knowledge can you then create any recipe at any time. Creativity comes from the heart so if you have a big passion for cuisine, you don’t need to think about it too much as it comes naturally.
I believe we need to be conscious as a chef, and we need to respect all the ingredients, all the things which surround us, and also professionally we must know how to work with ingredients because every day you may deal with different ingredients just like all humans are different, so you can’t treat them in the same way, so you must know how to work with these different ingredients.
Recipe Of The Week: Culurgiones & Roasted Tomato Consommé
• 720g egg yolk
• 665g whole eggs
• 1600g flour “00”
• 800g Semola
Put the flours in the stand mixer on speed 1. Then combine both eggs and slowly add to the flour mix. Once it looks like sand, still a bit dry, stop the machine. Compress the pasta in a container in order to create a compact square.
Put it in a vacuum bag and vacuum seal it. Let is rest for at least 12 hours before using.
• 600g cream
• 200g la Ratte potatoes
• 150g pecorino black skin
• 10g mint
• 8g gelatine
• t.t. salt
• t.t. black pepper
Slice the potatoes thinly and roast them in the oven at 170°c, then let them dry. Reduce the cream to 500gr and put the potatoes in infusion and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the fire and add mint in infusion for 10 minutes. Strain, bloom the gelatin in it, and add pecorino. Blend until smooth and pass through a sieve. Season this then pour the mix into piping bags and let it cool down until it’s a very firm texture.
• 1kg Datterino tomato
• 50g extra virgin olive oil
Put the tomatoes In a gastro tray and add a splash of olive oil. Roast them at 200°C for 10/15 minutes, then pour them onto a cheesecloth, on top of a perforated gastro tray. Once all the clear water is sieved out, reserve it.
Plating & Garnish
Build the pasta by rolling the dough with a pasta machine, then cut a circle with a pasta cutter. Put some filling and shape them. Cook them in salted boiling water, then plate and pour some warm tomato consommé. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.