'I have changed many homes'

Expat zone

It’s been an amazing few months of exploring the City for Armando Di
Filippo, the Italian chef who came to India in search of new career opportunities.

Armando moved here last June to promote the food of Tuscany at various restaurants in Bangalore, including Toscano (Orion Mall) and the Crowne Plaza hotel. But since November 2013, he has been the chef de cuisine at Mezzaluna, Moevenpick Hotel and Spa’s Italian restaurant.

“I came here to start a new life. I miss my family as I’ve come here alone right now. But in the next few months, my wife and kids will come to stay with me. It’s too early to say whether we’ll settle down here because it’ll be a big change for my family. But I feel that it’ll be a really good experience for my son and daughter — they can learn new languages, explore a different culture and experience a place like India. Then they can decide whether they want to stay on or not,” he shares.

Surprisingly, moving to Bangalore from Rome wasn’t a big deal for him. “I have changed many homes in my life. I was born in a small village called Tagliacozzo in Italy, went for four years to Montreal (Canada) when I was seven and then moved
to Belgium for a year. In Italy, I’ve stayed in different
districts like Abruzzo, Lazio and Tuscany. It’s normal for me to shift base,” says
Armando.

His first impression of Bangalore was created in 1992, when he was visiting
his mother who lives in Puttaparthi (Andhra Pradesh). “My mother’s been here for over 20 years and recently got a new passport as an Indian national. She’s told me lots about India and how she likes it here. Bangalore itself is more liveable than I remember it. The City has totally changed and it’s like a
European city in terms of the traffic. If you go to the town centre, it is exactly like London, Paris or Rome!” he remarks, adding, “What’s similar between Rome and Bangalore is the architecture and the fact that there’s a good mix of people from everywhere!”

While communication is slightly tough for Armando because his English isn’t very strong, the chef enjoys what he has seen of Bangalore. “I’m enjoying every day here. I have only Indian friends and don’t know anyone from Italy. I’ve visited Cochin, Puttaparthi and Mysore and within Bangalore, I’ve worked in Whitefield and Yeshwantpur and stayed at Koramangala for two months,” he informs.

What he loves most is the Bangalore weather. “The weather is very different
from what he have back home. In Rome, the winters are very cold and summers too hot. Here, it’s pleasant throughout the year and there are just a few showers from July to September, which is fine,” says the chef.

Armando is a living example of the Italian love for food with both parents and his brother being excellent cooks too. But while he retains the authentic taste of Italy at Mazzaluna, it’s the Indian food that has kept him back all these months. “I eat Indian food everyday! I like rice and the different ways in which it’s prepared. In the hotel cafeteria, we eat it with different sauces and curries everyday. It’s a little spicy
for me but even in Italy, we have spicy ingredients like pepperoncini. I love to try new dishes but haven’t had the opportunity to try cooking Indian food. But I’ll meet the chefs in the hotel soon to learn,” says Armando, who is also a fan of dosas.

Comparing the work culture to that of Italy, he says, “The hotel standard is just like European hotels and I don’t see big differences. You don’t get all the ingredients here but the principle ones like fresh tomatoes are good. Italian cheeses like parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta are a little difficult to find here whereas it’s available in every kitchen in Italy! But people like my food and the feedback has been positive. And the staff is very nice to work with.”

The only problems that he has noticed are the traffic jams and lack of nightlife in the City. “All parts of the world have some good things and some bad things. Bangalore needs to find a good traffic solution and construct better flyovers as it’s very chaotic. Also, I know that places close by 11.30 pm here. I go to sleep straight after work but that fact is strange for me because in Italy, bars and discos closed at three in the morning!” he wraps up.

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