Today's Q&A is with Aldo De Monte, a talented, enthusiastic and ambitious young chef, originally from Italy. Aldo shows a special care for the environment in everything he does: from the way food is produced, to limiting food wastage and adapting a sustainable production to a fine dining experience. His ethos and past experiences at restaurants like Savoy Grill in London, and Noma in Copenhagen, make Aldo an incredible, young chef to watch.

Tell us about yourself Aldo; your background, and how it has impacted on your profession as chef.
Well I’m a 22 yo Italian boy born and bred in Arzignano in the north of Italy, but my roots and my family are from a small town in Puglia called Cagnano Varano in the province of Foggia, in the South east of Italy.
My grandparents over there run an “agriturismo”, a small farm with a restaurant, so I’ve grown up in the hospitality environment since I was a small child.
This has helped me a lot when it came to gain work experience out of the family business.
My motto is ‘made for a few, but made with love’.
Growing in the north of Italy helped me to understand that with hard work and dedication you can literally get anywhere you want.

How do you describe your cooking style?
My cooking style is very much influenced by my working experiences between Italy, UK, and for the past few months, in Denmark.
I marry the concept of eating local, support the producers and going back to where our food comes from to discover new ways to look at food, to respect it, to experience the pairings that nature offers to us and respect everything we’ve been taught while learning how to cook whilst always trying to improve it somehow.

Tell us about one of your most recent experiences..
Unfortunately it has been interrupted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but since January I have been part of an Internship at Noma in Copenhagen; an absolutely mind blowing and eye-opener experience that I hope I’ll be able to complete one day soon.

What was one of the most challenging moments that you have experienced in a professional kitchen?
I would say working in Gordon Ramsay’ kitchen at the Savoy Grill.
I’ve started there as one of the youngest.
It was tough in that moment but I knew it was a huge chance for my carrier, and for myself, to try to learn something new everyday and to build a stamina that would help me forever.

And one of the funniest?
I can’t tell one. There have been so many with the boys in the kitchen!
I love the relationship that chefs and kitchen porters build in the kitchen, we share the same space for 15/16 hours a day so it creates a funny relationship between us, we always make jokes to each other.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on bringing my grandparents’ farm and restaurant back to shine. I am sure that his period of pause will help me to focus more on that aspect and to develop all the ideas I have in my mind.

How do you keep yourself busy during the current lockdown?
Following the departure from Denmark, I decided to self-isolate in Italy with my brother, who is a chemistry student in Florence. I have been cooking for him and I have been experimenting with some fermentation processes learned at Noma and feeding my mother yeast.

What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
Mainly reading books, listening to colleagues advice about other chefs and Instagram.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Find a good chef who is to willing to teach you, to mentor you. Treasure his advice and experience and try to read as much as you can.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My pairing knife.

What are you most excited about in the food scene post-lockdown?
I’m very curious to see how the big chefs are going to react.
Nothing will be the same and the hospitality industry needs to work on the basics all over again to be successful.

Where would you take your out of town guests for a memorable dinner once the social distance loosens up?
I would probably take them to Kiln in Soho, but as I’m now back in Italy, I’d take them to Maltraversi in Castello di Arzignano, in Veneto.
Otherwise I would simply throw a party at mine to discover again the pleasure of stay together and get drunk!

Your 5 minutes recipe..
Fresh orecchiette, tomatoes cut into quarters, blanched turnip greens, basil, and crumbled “taralli” on top. And plenty of extra virgin olive oil!

Fill in the blank: if I’d weren’t a chef I’d be…
..a sport journalist!
I love football, but I don’t have the skills to play it as a pro.

What does the future hold for you as a chef?
I am looking forward to get going with my project at my grandparents farm. I want to make people aware of the value of food and of its origins. I want to take our guests to the farm’s fields and show them what it is all about treating the ingredients, the animals and the environment respectfully.
I want to involve people who are willing to learn something new and work on innovative ways to improve the production of food, mainly in my beloved Puglia, which is a incredible corner of this planet, and help the area and locals to get what they really deserve.