In the Kitchen with Marcello Leoni
The rockstar chef shares an exclusive recipe with Elizabeth Street
“How do you teach children to love food? Simple: you need the right soundtrack when you’re cooking together. AC/DC for ragù and Keith Anderson for béchamel, for example.” Take it from Marcello Leoni, a chef whose knife kit is adorned with pictures of Jimi Hendrix. Elizabeth Street caught up with the renowned chef and his children Indro, 7, and Ariele, 5, in the kitchen of the Ristorante Leoni in Bologna. “I’ve always gone against the grain,” explains the 44-year-old who trained with Gianfranco Vissani, “that’s why I decided to hire 30 people and open a restaurant during a recession.” A big risk, but it’s easy to tell that Leoni is a little out there, especially while he’s playing with his kids in his kitchen. Everything is a mess and the two little ones are having a lot of fun getting dirty and poking fun at their dad, “I’m a much better cook than you are!” says Indro, while Marcello responds with a few karate chops. So what is the chef’s favorite dish? Well, that’s like asking which kid he loves most, “No, no, I can’t answer that,” he says smiling, “although nothing beets my grandmother’s risotto with potatoes, rosemary, and nutmeg. I make it for Indro, Ariele, and my diners. This is the key to great cooking: turn something we all have fond memories of into something modern.” —Veronica Russo
Scallion, basil, and clam frittata with bell pepper sorbet
For the frittata:
4 oz of cooked and shelled clams with their cooking water
2 chopped green scallion stems that have been stewed in olive oil and basil
Sauté the scallion until very warm, beat the eggs slightly and add them to the pan, add salt and pepper to taste and cook on a very low flame, as they begin to firm add the clams, making sure that the frittata stays creamy. Plate immediately and garnish with the sorbet.
For the sorbet:
8 oz of peeled and roasted bell peppers
1 cup of water
¼ cup of sugar
2 chopped chili peppers
Place the chili peppers, water and sugar into a dutch oven or large saucepan and heat until the sugar melts, and then blend everything together. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, just place it into the freezer and check the consistency frequently. When ready to serve, add some extra virgin olive oil and serve with the frittata.