Tomato, mozzarella, olive oil and basil. This is how a Neapolitan would describe the “authentic pizza”, whose simplicity relies on the freshness of its few ingredients, on the quality of the wood oven, and on the ability of the pizzaiolo. Surely traditions are meant to be cherished, but they can be revisited too. However, one question arises: how to improve something that is already perfect? In association with Identità Golose, Italian artisan chefs Franco Pepe and Simone Padoan joined forces in October 2015 and teamed up with Harrods to answer this question.
From Tuesday 27th until Saturday 31st October, Harrods hosted Pizza Gourmet, a pop-up where hungry, pizza-enthusiastic Londoners were able to try six limited edition creations from the two chefs.
Pepe, whose restaurant Pepe in Grani is located just a few kilometers from Naples, presented a menu combining Neapolitan tradition and innovative cooking technology. The three options he crafted for the pop-up were an ode to the chef’s roots: ‘Mistaken Margherita’, which involved the tomato being cold reduced to maintain and enhance its strong taste and then added at the end of the cooking process, ‘Tomato Treat’, with Grana Padano and several varieties of tomatoes, and ‘The Sun in the Plate’, a Margherita with buffalo mozzarella, capers and anchovies, made with locally sourced ingredients from the region Campania.
Padoan, born in Verona, in the northeast of Italy, and owner of the restaurant I Tigli di San Bonifacio, is considered to be the investor of the new Italian gourmet pizza. He introduced Londoners to three of his famous concoctions: ‘Margherita According to The Tigli’, a reinterpretation of the classic Margherita with lukewarm buffalo mozzarella placed on the pizza after it comes out of the oven, the healthy ‘The Vegetable Garden’, with vegetables and Gran Padana, and ‘From Land to Sea’, which unexpectedly mixes Mediterranean vegetables and Mazara del Vallo fresh red shrimps, balancing harmonies and contrasts to perfection.
Despite the chefs’ completely different backgrounds, cooking methods, recipes and ingredients, Franco Pepe and Simone Padoan managed to find the answer they were looking for. How to improve something that is already perfect? By coming up with original recipes and creative techniques, but maintaining the authenticity of flavours which characterises the most beloved, scrumptious and comforting Italian dish.