It’s just few days after my last post, and I’m aloft again, headed towards Istanbul, and Rome.
The reason is this: To eat, to study the small details of the best trattorias there, to source food ingredients, alcohol and wines, and just to immerse myself in the eating and drinking culture of Italy for two weeks. I’m travelling with Paolo Vitaletti, a native son, talented chef and (bias alert) my business partner. You see, in October, right before my trip to Singapore, we signed a lease for a space on Sukhumvit Soi 31. A Roman-style trattoria, with an Italian and an American at the helm, is coming soon to Bangkok. But first, we must eat.
Before you wonder why I’d do something like that – I’ll explain. This restaurant was a long time in the making. Paolo and I have known each other for years, and about three years ago we sped around Bangkok on his purple scooter (he drives like a bald bat out of hell, weaving between busses and food carts, and one can only close their eyes and hope…) looking for a restaurant space. I never found one with Paolo, and he later moved to Beijing, to helm the kitchens at the Aman. The space I later found became Soul Food Mahanakorn. But finally, gracefully, the pieces fit.
The last two-and-a-half years of my life have been rewarding, and often miserable, for the same reason. It is hard to run a restaurant alone, without a partner. The closest thing I’ve had to that was Chai, my manager, who last month returned to Myanmmar. I miss Chai. And I’m incredibly excited to work with Paolo.
We want to create a bastard-child of a trattoria – (should we call it Bastardo? Nah) with the rustic, simple cooking that one might find in Rome, or Puglia, in small restaurants along the Appian Way that winds south towards the heel of the boot. But with the sensibility of something other – something a little younger, fresher, and less constrained by the order that seems to define the Italian Restaurant In Asia. Paolo will bring his spirit onto the floor, and mine will occasionally drift into the kitchen. The wines will be from wherever we feel like. The drinks will be strong. The room warm. And if we get it right, the customers happy.
But first we must eat, and I’ll share some of that with you here. Cheers.