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Chef Nicholas Reina

H&S Chef Of The Month: Meet Chef Nicholas Reina From Italy

H&S Chef Of The Month

Nicholas Reina
Chef Nicholas Reina

Nationality: Italian

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: Pasta in Bianco, “Panna Appena Appena”, Negroni e Seppia

This is a white pasta served with a reduction of cream & juniper, Negroni reduction, and raw cuttlefish.

Chef Nicholas Reina
Negroni Reduction

Ingredients

• 300g Sweet Vermouth “Mancino”
• 300g Tanqueray Gin
• 300g Campari Bitter

 

Preparation

First, make the Negroni reduction, it will take two weeks at least. Pour the ingredients into a clay pot, close it and make sure you put a plate on the bottom to store the reduction. Wait until the reduction will come out from the pores of the clay pot. It will be thick as a syrup. It is a natural process so be patient.

 

Pasta Bianco With Reduction Of Cream & Juniper And Raw Cuttlefish

Ingredients:

• 3 pieces of Mezzo pacchero “Pastificio dei Campi”
• 15g butter
• 70g cooking cream
• 3g juniper berries
• 3g Negroni reduction
• 30g sliced cuttlefish
• Orange zest (to taste)
• 10g extra virgin olive oil
• Black pepper (to taste)
• 1g Parmigiano Reggiano 24 Month
• Maldon salt (to taste)
• 3g “Giusti” White balsamic vinegar from Modena

 

Preparation

Clean a cuttlefish from the offal and roll it in cling film, then freeze it. Slice thinly the frozen cuttlefish by using a slicer machine. In a pan roast the juniper berries and then crush them. Add the juniper to the cooking cream and bring it to simmer. Reduce the cream by half and then pass it through a fine sieve, season with a touch of
Maldon salt and white balsamic vinegar. Cook the pasta until still “al dente”, strain it into a pan with the butter.
Season the cuttlefish with extra virgin olive oil, a touch of Maldon, grounded black pepper previously roasted, orange zest grated by using a Microplane. Once the pasta is shiny and emulsified, plate it and add some splash of warm cream reduction on top of it. Put a few drops of Negroni syrup on top and the seasoned cuttlefish.

Garnish

Finish the dish with a touch of Parmigiano grated by Microplane.

 

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