Sunday September 2, 2012
Chef of all trades
Story and photos by ALICE CHING
Founder of the Garibaldi group Roberto Galetti relishes his multiple roles as executive chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur.
UNLIKE chefs in the old days who abhorred sharing their trade secrets, Roberto Galetti holds nothing back when sharing recipes and useful cooking tips. As executive chef, managing director and partner of Garibaldi, one of Singapore’s most successful restaurant groups, Galetti is confident that nobody can replicate his recipes with exact precision.
“I can give you all my recipes and the end results will still be different,” says Galetti. “Unless you have my professional training and over two decades of my working experience, you won’t be able to cook like me. Other underlying factors such as weather, ingredient selection and kitchen equipment also come into play.
“When I first arrived in Singapore, the same recipes which I had used in Tokyo didn’t work because the tropical humidity differs greatly from the cooler climate of Japan. That’s why I always remind those who attend my cooking classes to use their own judgement and make adjustments when using my recipes.”
Galetti readily imparted a slew of useful cooking tips and handy hints to me during our two-hour cooking demonstration at his Garibaldi restaurant in Bangsar recently. Assisted by executive chef Giuliano Berta and sous chef Andrea Genio, Galetti effortlessly whipped up Zuppa Di Aglio Dolce Crostini Alla Paprika (sweet garlic cream soup with toasted paprika croutons), Gnocchi Di Patate Al Pomodoro Olive Nere Ricotta Fatta In Casa (homemade potato dumplings with tomato sauce, black olives and homemade ricotta cheese), Il Cotto E Crudo Di Salmone Con Pesto Di Prezzemolo (cooked and raw salmon burger with parsley pesto) and Bunet Alla Piedmontese (classic Piedmont pudding of chocolate and amaretti biscuits), patiently elaborating on the finer details of each recipe for my benefit.
Born in 1970 in Brescia, Italy, Galetti knew he wanted to be a chef by the age of 14. While pursuing his culinary diploma at the prestigious Culinary Institute Caterina De Medici, he spent summer breaks perfecting his skills at his native region’s best restaurants.
Five years later with diploma in hand, Galetti set out to develop his vocation and see the world. His first stint was at the Hyde Park Hotel London as chef de partie under executive chef Adriano Paganini. Then he returned home to work at the Grand Hotel Palazzo della Fonte in Fiuggi before joining the Schwaithlalm Hotel in Salzburg, Austria as sous chef.
The travel bug bit Galetti again a year later and he became chef de cuisine of the newest Bice restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994. Three years down the road, he spearheaded the Bice team at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo. Galetti was subsequently appointed Bice’s executive chef at the Goodwood Park Hotel in Singapore in 1999.
Lured by one of his customers to set up a brand new restaurant, Galetti opened Enoteca Rossi in 2001 to great acclaim. Galetti again broke new ground when he established Garibaldi Singapore with the help of some close friends in March 2003. Refusing to rest on his laurels, the enterprising restaurateur began collaborating with like-minded partners on different food and beverage ventures.
Galetti opened Garibaldi’s first off-shore outlet in Kuala Lumpur in December 2010. The group has also opened Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant in the city.
Despite having his fingers in so many pies, Galetti remains very much a hands-on chef back at Garibaldi Singapore. The workaholic admits that he doesn’t take any days off, insisting that his customers expect him to be present as the owner.
“Garibaldi Singapore has a homely feel to it so customers look forward to me playing host and making them feel welcome when they patronise the restaurant. It’s the same with my staff; the moment they step into Garibaldi, I insist everyone come together and work like family members. To me, if you want to be a Garibaldi chef, you must work with your heart,” he says.
The culinary maestro also believes that the willingness to go the extra mile for customers is what keeps them returning to Garibaldi.
Stickler for tradition
He is adamant that fusion food has no place in Garibaldi, stating emphatically that customers patronise Garibaldi for its truly classical Italian specialities.
“Customers who have been to Italy tell me that our food is comparable to what they had eaten there,” says Galetti proudly.
The Garibaldi restaurant in Kuala Lumpur is spread over two floors; its high ceilinged, stylishly understated main dining room includes four private rooms that are ideal for business entertainment, social and formal gatherings.
Fellow Brescian Berta and sous chef Genio are tasked with upholding Garibaldi KL’s gastronomic standards, keeping the discerning clientele happy with the house specialities and returning for monthly as well as seasonal offerings.
Loyal customers will vouch that no visit to Garibaldi is complete without savouring the beef carpaccio (thinly sliced beef tenderloin accompanied by shaved parmigiano cheese and fresh rocket), the Salmone (tartare-style slivers of Norwegian salmon with avocado and orange juice) and Torta di Mele, apple pie with crispy outer crust, delicate centre and homemade Italian ice cream.
Roberto Galetti certainly has the recipe for Garibaldi’s success down pat.
Useful tips from Roberto Galetti
WHEN caramelising sugar, be careful not to touch the pan or boiling sugar or you will suffer a nasty burn. Remove residual caramel from your pan by filling it with water and bringing it to boil, to dissolve the excess caramel.
If you are making pesto at home, ensure it is kept away from heat, light and air. Pour a layer of extra virgin olive oil on the top of your pesto before storing in an airtight container. For transparent containers, wrap the outside with aluminium foil and store in a cool, dark place.
Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar
LG10 & G22, Bangsar Village
Jalan Telawi Satu
Tel: 03-2282 3456
Fax: 03-2201 34 57
Opens daily for lunch (noon-2.30pm) and dinner (6pm-10. 30pm)