2016 Good Food Guide Chef of the Year (and one-time skilled marksman for the Finnish army) Pasi Petanen was done with pop-ups. He’d scored plenty of acclaim for his one-off Cafe Paci restaurant – which was only meant to stick around for a year, but got extended to two and a half years by popular demand – and he’d also undergone temporary guest stints at Yellow and Auto.Lab, too. But friend and former Gourmet Traveller Sommelier of the Year Giorgio de Maria convinced him to take on one last job before pop-up retirement: That’s Amore.
Running throughout March at Mecca Alexandria, this limited run of dinners is a collaboration that’ll see the sommelier and chef experimenting with what to serve – depending on what’s at the market and what’s in the cellar. There’ll be a lot of back-and-forth adjusting of the dishes and drinks as the two taste and drink their way through upcoming menu concepts. “It’s like a ping pong game,” says Giorgio.
That’s Amore is inspired by a tartare dish that Pasi served in pizza boxes at Rootstock Sydney a few years ago, but the pair is keeping a lot of the information about their pop-up classified so far. Sourdough starter pasta with butter sauce is the only dish they’ve willingly revealed from the menu so far, although Giorgio (who currently runs Giorgio’s Fun Wines) has happily name-dropped what drinks might get served (including a fascinating seaside wine that he once presented in an oyster shell and a wild pear cider that’s aged for much longer than you’d expect).
Also in this podcast: they discuss the strange sensation of eating bear meat, how tough it was for Pasi to create ultra-intricate candied parsley for a signature dessert (it was worse overseas recently, where his attempt to re-make it in the UK was a disaster: “It was like trying to spread wet toilet paper”) and why you might have spotted Pasi making egg sandwiches – or being a golf caddy – for ACME’s Mitch Orr lately.
Plus, Giorgio’s infamous response to eating at Noma Australia (it involved losing some clothes), Pasi riffing on Photato, Ryemen, Pear and Parsley dessert and other cult dishes from his Cafe Paci days and we hear where they both love to eat and drink in Sydney. (As a bonus, Pasi talks about a meal he enjoyed during Beau Clugston’s residency at Le “6 Paul Bert” – it was so next level that it included one of the best 10 dishes he’s ever tried. Also, it turns out Sydney chefs are getting seriously name-checked in the French capital – plenty of people were asking Pasi about Saint Peter’s Joshua Niland when he was there.)
You can listen to this episode on iTunes or download it via RSS or directly. And thanks to everyone who has left kind comments about this podcast or even dropped some nice words in the iTunes store – it really makes the bleary-eyed editing sessions worth it! Also, thanks to Bon Appétit and Frankie Cox of Two Hands in New York for generously including my show in Bon App’s round-up of podcasts that chefs love!
PS Apologies for the background noise – it turns out we accidentally recorded this in the world’s loudest place! Pasi and Giorgio are great, so I hope you do persevere and get to hear their illuminating and funny stories. And enjoy the guest cameos at the end of the podcast!