Andrea Buson Talks to Top 25 Restaurants
Venetian native Andrea Buson has a wealth of experience and brings new flavours from the north of Italy. Chef Andrea mastered modern Italian cuisine at the prestigious IPSSAR Pietro d’Abano in Padova and spent seven years perfecting his craft around Italy. In 2008, Chef Andrea began his career abroad, moving from Italy to Spain, then to the Middle East and finally to Asia and Thailand.
Since taking the helm at Biscotti at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, Chef Andrea has introduced new creations to the menu inspired by the heart-warming food from his childhood in Venice with a plethora of rich flavours for which the region is known. His take on the typical Venetian Risi e Bisi dish of rice and peas takes inspiration from his grandmother’s recipe – a light risotto of peas, pancetta, seared foie gras and Parmesan cheese. Seafood also features comprehensively, including his personal favourites – Sea scallops with Buffalo Mozzarella cream, and wild-caught Sockeye salmon with Bronte’s pistachio pesto, Sicilian cherry tomatoes and purple potatoes.
How did you become a chef?
As a child I was watching my grandma preparing the food every Sunday and helped her in the kitchen. She was doing homemade pasta or Raghu, all the traditional dishes we used to eat on Sundays. So the passion for cooking originated in my grandma’s kitchen.
Where are you from in Italy?
I am from a small town near Venice, just 15 to 20 minutes driving by car.
What are some emerging food trends that you are noticing, particularly here in Asia as you have experience in Asia?
Food trends change very quickly and nowadays even more so with the advent of social media. Because most patrons upload photos of the ordered dishes to Instagram, the presentation and plating has become more and more important. Especially in Asia, customers like to eat with their eyes first by taking a lot of pictures. Healthy food is now a major trend, forcing restaurants to be more transparent and open regarding food origin and sourcing. Not only origin but also freshness and quality of ingredients are now more important than ever.
How important is the presentation of dishes?
The presentation is extremely important. When coming up with new dishes or a new menu, I first visualize it in the plate, draw it on paper before I start cooking it.
Is presentation and plating a global trend?
Absolutely, in all fine dining restaurants the chefs are doing their best in creating new presentations, new ways to present a dish. Patrons enjoy their food with their eyes, and camera, first.
What is the difference between running a restaurant in Italy and running one in Bangkok?
I worked eight years in Italy before to move abroad. There are not many differences between running a restaurant in Italy and here in Thailand. I would say the main difference is how to manage the staff and how to get them involved. Working with people from a different culture or background can be challenging.
Bangkok is multi-racial and multi-cultural metropolis and customers are coming from all over the world, as a Chef and restaurant you must be able to satisfy any request that they have. These requests might be quite different from those of an Italian guest.
Do you source as much local produce as possible? Does this have a big impact on your menu?
I always try use as many as possible local ingredients, which I buy in the market. For an Italian restaurant, this presents some challenge as our customers come to eat Italian so we have to import original, quality products from Italy as well.
Many guests ask me from where the products or ingredients come from, they want to hear the product is from Italy and are happy to eat dishes prepared with original, imported ingredients.
If there were one dish that sums up your style, which one would be your signature dish?
The dish that best reflects my style is the “slow cooked octopus, sous-vide octopus” that we have in the menu. This dish combines my Italian roots presented in a modern way. In my hometown we used to eat the octopus bought from the street and it was so delicious. I had to bring it to a fine dining restaurant but cooked in a contemporary style.
Did any of the dishes you discovered recently in Asia make it to your menu?
The sea scallop with a cream of buffalo mozzarella. Normally I use sea scallops from Hokkaido, Japan.
What do you think of chefs like Gordon Ramsay who have taken old cuisines to the masses via reality TV?
Celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay contributed to popularize the work in the kitchen and the cuisine in general and a lot of TV viewers develop a passion for cooking.
The negative side of reality shows like MasterChef is that people think life in the kitchen is reflected on the show. To become a chef, it takes a lot of time, efforts and many hours of hard work in the kitchen.
What is the one cooking tool that the chef should not be without?
For me, it’s without doubt the knife because every chef has his own set of knives. Every ambitious chef buys his own knifes when he starts his career and will cherish them during his whole working life.
What is your favorite pasta?
Actually, the homemade fettuccine is my favorite.
What is next for you?
My “Big” dream is to open my own culinary school. I’m thinking about it for a long time and partly it stems from my experience in Asia where I have to teach daily about Italian food and ingredients and how to prepare and cook them.
I’m explaining and teaching a lot every day and thinking it would be nice to have a school and have students, young people interested to learn about cooking and being a chef and discover how satisfying and rewarding it can be.