Today we are chatting to Stefano Camplone, founder of Edit pop up and Young Chef of The Year 2019 finalist. Currently head chef at Barge East, Stefano’s impressive culinary background has seen him working at top London restaurants Roganic, Pachamama East and Neo Bistro. Stefano is definitely one to watch and we are delighted to share his views in this interview curated by The Pass.

Edit Pop Up Stefano Camplone

Hello Stefano – thank you for being with us today. What were you like growing up and how would your family and friends have described you?
Ciao Gaby, thanks for having me. I am the youngest of 6 children born and raised in Pescara on the eastern coast of Italy. I was a very quiet kid with a great passion for extreme sports such as aggressive inline skating, free climbing and free skiing. In some ways I was overlooked because of my interests and adventurous lifestyle. I have been most commonly described as “the guy everybody likes”. I suspect my charm does the trick!

When did you decide that food and cooking for others could be part of your life?
I grew up in the kitchen alongside my mum helping her cooking for our numerous guests, my family and their friends. Every meal was fun and full of joy and I truly enjoyed being next to her while she was preparing stunning fresh fish or eating raw fresh pasta (my favourite has always been raw gnocchi).
To this day I remember such episodes from childhood summers where I was helping my dad in his garage and a fisherman came straight from his boat with a box full of catch of the day, or as I love to refer to it – goodness. I guess it was a life changing experience when I had my first raw anchovy – he tore one apart with his bare hands and ate it, no salt or oil.
Being a curious young boy I had to try, and that was it, in that moment I understood the pure emotion of such simplicity.It was then I decided that I wanted to bring that joy to others through food.

Edit PopUP Logo

You have been hosting your own supper clubs that go by the name of Edit pop up. What is the concept behind your events?
Edit means change. It’s about my personal journey as I ‘edit’ my life through the years. This supper club project is part of it – a change, a new exciting beginning.

The concept is simple – with my passion and knowledge I strive to showcase local, seasonal produce through events where like minded people can join together around a table, experience fine dishes and wine and have a great time. Every event brings a piece of Abruzzo to the table.

Why supper clubs?
My long term goal is to open a restaurant and I believe supper clubs are a great way to network, gather knowledge and get people acquainted with my ideas and food. I get the chance to work at different locations, collaborate with like minded individuals in the industry and get the feel of running the show for a night.

Stefano Camplone: Edit pop up supper club At The Arches
Photo by Karloiina Helosuo

In your opinion what is the biggest challenge facing the restaurant industry today?
One of the challenges I am most concerned about in our industry is food wastage. From supermarket to a supplier to a restaurant most people tend to overbuy food or tend to use just what they think is good and waste all the rest.
There is always a way to recycle and to use produce before it becomes inedible and we should all start thinking about what we can do to make it work.

How would you describe your cooking style?
This is a tough one as I wouldn’t say I have a particular cooking style – it’s a combination of what I learned from my mum as a kid, the experience I gained working in different kitchens, and constant experimenting. However, as I love keeping dishes simple and clean, I could say it comes very close to the nordic style with a twist of classic techniques.

Photo by Elina Upmane Photography

How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
It’s simple for me – they have to smell nice. And I would usually try them raw. I am often told off by my partner as there are always new, random ingredients in our house she has to keep up with, but I just love to try new flavours for inspiration!

Which chef would you want to cook with in your kitchen?
It’s difficult to name just one as I would be delighted to cook alongside anyone with the same passion for food as myself.

What’s your greatest strength in the kitchen?
My temper I believe. I always try to stay calm and happy.

Kitchen tool the home chef doesn’t know about but should?
My beloved tweezers. A lot of people don’t like them but I feel lost without them.
That little help for my clumsy hands has saved me from many mistakes, and can be a great tool for those who want to keep their hands clean.

Best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Do you know what you learned in culinary school? Forget it , this is a real kitchen, I will teach you how to survive.” It came from the first chef I cooked for in Italy.

How do you keep up to date with the latest food trends?
I love cookbooks and I have so many of them. However I rarely read them (I am not a big fan of reading altogether and I have to admit that the only book I’ve read from cover to cover was Anthony Burdain’s Kitchen Confidential), however I enjoy seeing what well-known chefs around the globe are bringing to the world of cooking, the newest trends and styles, and just to spark my inspiration for new dishes.
I’d also say that eating out is one of the best ways to experience the latest food trends; that way I can broaden my knowledge and I can truly understand what it is all about by tasting new combinations of flavours.

Photo by Elina Upmane Photography

What are you most excited about right now in the food scene?
The concept of reducing food wastage and how it’s changing the way chefs are approaching cooking. It’s also something I am embracing while working closely with my main supplier FoodChain.

Where would you take your out of town guests for a memorable meal?Without a doubt Meraki, a contemporary Greek restaurant in Fitzrovia. The head chef Nikitas always takes great care of me; the food is incredible and I would say is where I’ve had one of the best meals in London so far.

Your favourite 5 minute recipe?
My mum’s Tuna salad.
She always makes a her own tuna in oil and it tastes amazing. I love to eat it with some bitter leaves and fresh, juicy tomatoes with a good extra virgin olive oil drizzle.

Fill in the blank: If I weren’t a chef I’d be…
I would most likely be in retail. I like to sell, which is something I have in common with my brothers. However, even though a viable option, I’d most likely still be living in Italy, so I am grateful where my journey as a chef has taken me.

What does the future hold for Stefano Camplone?
I would like to travel more, personally and professionally. I’d love to take Edit pop up outside of London to see where it takes me and how people will react to the food experiences I offer.
Also opening my own restaurant is still on top of my goals list.
I can confidently say that you will see more of Edit pop up in the second half of the year…

Stefano Camplone has made it to the finals of
M Restaurants and Bookatable Young Chef Of The Year 2019.

His inventive menu includes cod crudo with foraged nettles and foraged pickled elderberry, and plaice with beans tartare and split fish sauce.
Book Stefano’s pop-up on Friday 12th July here.