Tiziana Favi of the Slow Food Chef’s Alliance has transformed her original passion for communication into something profoundly delicious. “It’s not always easy to explain what we do to our customers, and the value of our continuous culinary investigations. But when we’re able to, the satisfaction is enormous, and I know all the difficulties we face have paid off.”
Contacting Tiziana wasn’t easy, even if we had arranged an appointment. It’s normal for chores and unforeseen tasks to acculumate in our days off. But I don’t give up: I really care about this interview, as I care about exploring the thoughts and opinions of all the women involved in Slow Food.
Waiting for the lampuga
Tiziana works in Tarquinia with her husband Marcello, where she started the Namo Ristobottega together with two other business partners. Being inland, her points of reference in terms of seafood are found both north and south of the restaurant, at the Orbetello laguna and the Fiumicino coast. “Despite not having a traditional maritime culture we like using fish, above all the lesser-known and lesser-eaten species: at Slow Fish we’re brining smoked lampuga (dolphinfish), as prepared by our suppliers, Sapormaris, using oak chips.” Visitors to Slow Fish will be able to taste it in the Cooking School Smoked lampuga and baccalà soup and in the Taste Workshop dedicated to The secrets of smoking.
The dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, is a migratory species present in the Mediterranean in spring and summer, which is the best season to catch it. In the dishes that Tiziana presents at Slow Fish they are served together with products from the Ark of Taste such as the Purgatory Beans, Solco Dritto Chickpeas and Allumiere Yellow Bread.
Promoting small-scale products
That Tiziana is brining so many “Slow Food” products is no accident: the promotion of the Ark of Taste and the Presidia is one of the constants of her kitchen. We know that this aspect of her work isn’t easy, but it pays off. “Working with small-scale producers, personally researching and selecting products: that’s one of our greatest satisfactions. We choose them one by one, forming direct and long-lasting relationships with the Presidia producers. Every so often we explore beyond our local area, for example in choosing meats, like the Maremma Cattle or the Piedmontese Cattle. Slow Food makes our work easier, not just by promoting virtuous producers and products at risk of extinction, but also by making us aware of today’s big issues, like the problems related to glyphosate used in wheat fields: we’ve had to revolutionize and adapt our choices to be able to deliver food that is truly good, clean and fair.”
A question of passion
For every raw ingredient Tiziana is able to cite examples: for wines, cheeses, vegetables, she knows which producers enable her to provide high-quality food. This is her way of creating a community. “If you build a network, good things always come of it, you make interesting discoveries, and our customers, many of whom come from afar, reward our passion.”
We talk more about the theme of passion towards the end of our chat. “I started out studying languages, as my passion is communication. My first job had nothing to do with that, it was in insurance, but from 1990 to 2002 I managed a trattoria which did really simple home cooking. In the following years I did other things, but in 2015 we started Namo Ristobottega, with more passion than ever, and more awareness. From the beginning this has been the key to this restaurant: we do what we love, and we love the products we cook, while giving our customers the right amount of attention and making them feel comfortable.”
In one sense, Tiziana has transformed her original passion for communication into something profoundly delicious. “It’s not always easy to explain what we do to our customers, and the value of our continuous culinary investigations. But when we’re able to, the satisfaction is enormous, and I know all the difficulties we face have paid off.”
Purgatory bean soup with octopus and herbsAn example? “Some time ago we had a customer, around 70 years old, with his daughter. That day we had chestnut soup with kale. He ordered it, and after eating, he was moved. He told me how the dish reminded him of his childhood, of foods we don’t eat anymore, that have fallen into the abyss. I was moved too: that’s what happens when people understand the reason you do what you do.”
Can’t wait to get started? Try cooking Tiziana Favi’s purgatory bean soup!
by Silvia Ceriani