Excellent Gusto interviews celebrity Italian chef Enzo Oliveri, also known as The Sicilian Chef. He was born on the beautiful Italian island of Sicily, and since he was a boy he has had a passion for food. A chef for 15 years in London, today Enzo is famous for his cuisine and pizza dishes, very popular with celebrities from around the world.
Enzo has worked in many prestigious restaurants in Europe, the United States, Dubai and London. He has cooked for Princess Diana, the Prime Minister, Tom Cruise, Madonna and other celebrities and international stars. He has worked alongside other famous chefs like Aldo Zilli and Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay, in the “The F Word” magazine, thanked the Sicilian chef for teaching him to hunt and cook octopus (see the video: “Gordon Ramsey and Enzo Oliveri go Octopus Hunting in Sicily”). Today Enzo is the Managing Director of the Fratelli La Bufala restaurant chain in the UK and is also known as a TV personality, followed on the BBC channel, for his knowledge of Sicilian culinary arts.
From the fiery sunsets and scents of Sicily, “the island of sunshine”, to the dazzling, bubbly and grey city of London. Enzo, tell us the most important moments of your career …
As a boy I loved the art of adding flavours and aromas to delicious dishes. At 16 I decided to travel the world, spreading the Sicilian culture through its cuisine. During one of my travels on cruise ships, I met a British woman who swept me off my feet with her charm and brought me to London. With this woman, I had two wonderful children. However, I have not forgotten the hot Sicilian sun, an island that I visit often!
At Fratelli La Bufala restaurant in Piccadilly Circus, can we taste the “excellence of Italy” told by Chef Enzo Oliveri?
Fratelli la Bufala is a restaurant chain from the Campania region of Italy that uses authentic products of the highest quality; put simply, it is Italian regional cuisine of high quality. At my restaurant in London you can “taste” the culture of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies!
What are the innovations you bring to the Fratelli La Bufala Group?
When I joined the Group everything was already in place. The change I implemented consisted of giving the restaurant an international look and menu. The restaurant has become a meeting point and in the menu I have integrated famous dishes that are carefully designed and presented. Nowadays we eat with the eyes first!
Chef Enzo Oliveri, does the title “Celebrity Chef” makes you feel like a Star?
If being a Star means making thousands of people happy and being applauded, Yes, I do feel like a Star! Because everyday I make people happy tasting my dishes! For years I have been involved in exhibitions, shows, TV programs. What I find most satisfying is to be able to reach many people and communicate how to cook food using simple techniques and good ingredients, creating a healthy diet. As the Italian saying goes: “Eat well and live to a hundred!”.
What are your new ideas for patrons and fans?
My collaborators and I are working on many exciting projects: films, new Fratelli la Bufala restaurants, new Italian restaurants, and, why not… some Sicilian restaurants as well, as I feel I represent them. I am partaking in Fairs and Italian Street Food events and last but not least, teaching in Colleges and Universities about hospitality, to give the young generation the opportunity to find passion in their career.
How would you describe your restaurant?
My restaurant is easy to find, it’s lovely, well lit and very welcoming. You are met by a professional smile that shows you to your table. The expert waiter gives recommendations, the Chef cooks and the bill must not be over the top. This is because a restaurant should be easy enough to understand, nice enough to make you feel comfortable, good and cordial enough to make you want to come back. The secret lies in the “quality” of the products, the “quality” of the Chef who has to transform them, and the “quality” of the staff who have to present them. Therefore the key is quality, quality and quality!