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Continuing with his #cheftravels and seeking to serve even more original dishes in Dubai, Chef Izu has been in search of further inspiration. Having already visited Peru, Ethiopia, and Australia, his latest research trip took him to Italy, where the kitchen is the heart of Italian families and the home of folk sayings such as; “at the table with good friends and family you do not become old.” These inspirational journeys are a significant part of researching and sourcing the ingredients you see on our award-winning menu.

Chef Izu began his journey in Modena, a town synonymous with one of the key ingredients in any kitchen: balsamic vinegar. After learning about the distinctive ageing process used in its production, he was privileged to taste from the oldest barrel of balsamic vinegar in the world, which is 150 years old.

Balsamic barrels
Balsamic vinegar barrels from Modena

After leaving Modena, Chef Izu made the short journey to Parmigiano Reggiano, where Parmesan cheese is made. The curatolo di bovi here control every aspect of the cheese’s production. They even grow the feed for their cows and raise the cattle.

Chef Izu was incredibly impressed by the time, dedication and effort put into this versatile product. Each parmesan has to be checked repeatedly during the ageing process before being certified as Parmigiano Reggiano. Most wheels are aged for a total of 18 to 36 months. For the parmesan to find its way into restaurants like La Serre in Dubai the cheese must have the seal of approval from the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano. This is the highest grading of Parmigiano Reggiano for the export market and is a mark of excellence.

Seal of approval parmesan
Seal of approval from the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano

Next stop Puglia to visit the port town of Bari, the home of our celebrated Burrata cheese. The whole process for Burrata is done by hand. The cheesemakers begin by stripping the mozzarella into strips called stracciatella, which are then combined with cream and fat before being mixed by hand. Vegetable rennet is added (making Burrata suitable for vegetarians) and natural whey fermentation to the cow’s milk. It’s then heated at a low temperature to obtain the curd.

Burrata filtered image
Traditional handmade Burrata from Puglia

 “It’s so important to continue the traditional method of making Burrata. If modern technology is implemented then they will change the quality of the product.”

–  Chef Izu Ani

Chef Izu’s tour then took him to the south of Italy to visit La Serre’s olive oil producer and one of the restaurant’s newest fish suppliers. Our supplier’s restaurant, Crudi Crudi, was a highlight of the visit. No produce is wasted at this superb restaurant where traditional cooking techniques are used to bring out the best in the ingredients. The fish here is so fresh that the natives of Puglia often eat it raw. The name Crudi Crudi actually means Raw Raw!

Raw fish
Raw fish from the South of Italy

Chef Izu finished his trip with a private tour of the Ferrari factory. The discipline, the heritage, and the team spirit at Ferrari are disciplines which Chef Izu respects and also shares amongst his team at La Serre. Chef Izu left Italy with an even bigger smile on his face, taking away inspiration and with profound appreciation for the people, the places he visited and of course, the ingredients.

Izu with barrels
Chef Izu Ani checking out barrels of Parmesan cheese

“Life is about the memories you make and food is all about the shared experience.”

– Chef Izu Ani

Follow Chef Izu on the La Serre Blog to get updates on his research trips to source organic ingredients, and on Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #cheftravels.