Mario Caramella, GVCI president has announced who is GVCI Chef of the Year and said: “As every year, we nominate one of us as Chef of the Year. In the past, we have awarded those who had endured serious life threatening situations. It´s always great to be able to nominate someone for better reasons and, for a change, this year we will award a non Italian chef who makes Italian Cuisine... he´s one of the Chefs that we, at GVCI call the Third Generation Italian Cuisine Chefs: MARK LADNER”.
At Del Posto, which he runs with partners Mario Batali, Jason Denton, and Joe and Lidia Bastianich, Mark cooks a sensible interpretation of regional Italian “Cucina Classica”, utilizing responsibly raised and locally grown products. Del Posto holds a 4-star rating from the New York Times, and one star from the prestigious Guide Michelin. He has been working with many influential chefs such as Todd English, Scott Bryan and Jean Georges Vongerichten and worked in various successful Italian restaurants (Babbo, Lupa, Otto).
Here an interview we had the opportunity to make with Mark Ladner:
Interview by Anthony Scillia
Q: Who are some of your Italian culinary inspirations?
A: I'm certainly most influenced by the spirits of both Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, but also Cesare Casella and other great Italian chefs such as Gualtiero Marchesi, Massimiliano Aljamo and my recent favorite Pino Cuttaia. I'm also heavily influenced by Italian art and design, Michelangelo & Leonardo Da Vinci for example, and Italian service ware houses such as Richard Ginori, Alessi or Ruffoni. I also have some less obvious admiration for amazing Italian tastemakers such as the mid-century designer Gio Ponti (who designed for Richard Ginori for many years), the early 20th century futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti or the great international restaurateurs, the Cipriani family. As well as the fashionistas Emilio Pucci and Mui Mui Prada. Just to name a few...
Q: What drew you to Italian cuisine in the first place?
A: It chose me! The contrast of smooth cutting edge style and design with the warmth and conviviality of family and home inspired simplicity.
Q: Is there one traditional dish of Italian cuisine that was most "inspiring" for you and why?
A: Roman cacio e pepe exemplifies all that I admire about Italian sensibilities. Smooth and silky, firm and creamy texture, salty and piquant. Very few ingredients come together in equal balance. Simple is sophisticated.
Q: What is your concept of authenticity in terms of Italian cuisine and how important is it for the marketing of your restaurant?
A: To me, the most important aspect of Italian authenticity is primarily using fresh food, grown close to home that is prepared simply. In restaurant marketing, in Manhattan today, the diner is very knowledgeable and has lots of choices of where to spend their money and time. Diners have expectations that are not always easily met. Offering a recognizable meal that is also new and exciting while simultaneously offering flexibility for people to customize their experience based on their individual needs, wants and desires seems to be the most challenging thing for us to manage right now.