'I fasted along with my Indian friends'

'I fasted along with my Indian friends'

Italian chef Antonello Cancedda worked in countries like The Philippines and United States of America before coming to India.

Likewise, before joining the JW Marriott in Bengaluru, he was with the same chain in Chandigarh.

Recalling his journey so far, he says India has been a different yet an enjoyable experience. “The people here know how to enjoy life and spend quality time with family. Making friends is so easy,” he smiles.

Even when it comes to work, he has the same to say. “I haven’t found so much of a difference in the work cultures of the countries I have worked in. But I find it a lot easier to work in Bengaluru as the people are very friendly,” he adds.

Another thing the chef likes about the people of the City is their openness to other cultures. “People here love different cultures and cuisines. I know they love Italian food too,” says the good-natured chef who works at the Italian speciality restaurant Alba.

“Though most of the time I am busy in the kitchen, whenever I get some time off cooking, I walk around the restaurant and ask my customers for feedback. Everyone has his or her own ideas and this helps me understand the perception that people have of Italian food,” says the chef who hails from the picturesque town of Sardinia in Italy.

 “I am from Cagliari, which is the capital of Sardinia. Like how they have Calgary in Canada, we have Cagliari in Italy,” he jokes.

His family is back in Italy and he tries to visit them as much as he can. Speaking of his childhood in the beautiful Sardinia, he says he was always fond of cooking.

“I started cooking when I was a kid. I still remember the first dish that I prepared. It was a carrot souffle. When I was 14 years old, I worked in a hotel in the mountains as an assistant chef. Then my manager told me to study hotel management if I was serious about the profession. So I enrolled into a hotel management school and studied and worked at the same time,” he recalls.

Fate and his extraordinary talent took Antonello places before he joined JW Marriott here.
Ask him if the Italian food served in the City is true to its taste and he says, “I have visited three to four Italian restaurants in the City and realised that everyone tries to impress you with their presentation here.

But at times when you put the food in the mouth, it’s inedible and hard to chew. Italian food is more about the flavours than presentation. Take a crepe for instance. It is soft and fresh. If you take a picture of a dish like pasta, it looks nothing great. But when you eat it, you get so many flavours.” 
However, Antonello is all praises for Indian food. “I just love the spice. But I prefer the Indian food that is made at home rather than what you get at the restaurants. My favourite items are chicken tikka, kala channa, yellow dal and dosa. I just love those dosas that are crunchy yet gooey in the centre,” he says referring to appams.

“In fact, there is a lot of similarity between Italian and Indian food. We also use tomato-based gravies like arrabbiata just like the Indians,” he adds. The chef, who also loves singing and playing the guitar, during his free time, enjoys hanging out at various places in the City.

  “I like a place where I can enjoy a game of soccer with a chilled drink. So I enjoy going to the Hard Rock Cafe. I also love Cubbon Park. Every time I go out, I have a great time thanks to the amazing weather in the City. It’s not too cold or hot. For us, cold actually means zero degrees!”  he exclaims.

He loves India so much that he soon plans to tie the knot here in Goa. “I love the different festivals people celebrate here. Everything is so colourful. In fact, for ‘navaratri’ this year, even I fasted along with my Indian friends and ate the vegetarian food that’s eaten during that period,” he sums up.

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