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09.01.2018. Le Sirenuse
In November 2016, at the age of thirty, Gennaro Russo of Le Sirenuse’s La Sponda restaurant became the youngest Michelin-starred chef on the Amalfi Coast, when the prestigious culinary guide’s 2017 awards were announced. Like many talented young chefs, Gennaro served his apprenticeship in a series of high-profile restaurants – two of them in the world fine dining capital, Paris. Little did he suspect that just five years later he’d be invited back as guest chef at a hallowed temple of gastronomy – the Ritz Paris.
Between 15 and 28 January, Gennaro will bring to the Ritz some of the genuine, flavoursome southern Italian dishes he has developed during his two years at the helm of La Sponda. Six of his signature dishes – three for each week of his guest appearance – will be included on the lunch menu of the Ritz Paris’ elegant Les Jardins de L’Espadon restaurant. Gennaro has also devised six canapés that will be presented at the Ritz Bar, paired with cocktails chosen by Le Sirenuse’s Head Barman Robert Wimmer.
Gennaro Russo will also lead a cooking class at the Ritz Paris’ renowned École Ritz Escoffier, which pays homage to one of the great founding fathers of French haute cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, a close associate of César Ritz and the hotel’s first Chef. The Italian chef will talk students through the preparation of two of the dishes he is presenting at Les Jardins de L’Espadon: Fagottelli pasta filled with ‘Genovese’ style beef, served with black truffle and parmesan sauce; and Blue lobster in seafood broth with risini beans.
But Gennaro has also promised that the lucky few who book for the lesson will be treated to a surprise extra dish that distills his Amalfi Coast ‘less is more’ philosophy. All he will reveal is that it has something to do with the 12 kilos of assorted Campanian tomatoes, 15 kilos of Gragnano pasta and 15 litres of extra-virgin olive oil that he is taking to Paris with him.
The Ritz Paris invitation is a dream come true for the 31-year-old chef from Somma Vesuviana. In November 2011 he began working as a chef de partie at famed Paris dining establishment Lasserre, a position he would hold until the summer of 2013, when he moved on to a six-month stint at another Parisian legend, three-starred L’Ambroisie. It was while working at Lasserre, early in 2012, that the 25-year-old apprentice chef found himself walking past the Ritz Paris on his day off while listening to a mixtape on his headphones.
At that time, the hotelerie grande dame was in the middle of a four-year facelift, and was closed to the public. “I stood there gazing at that façade covered in scaffolding”, Russo recalls, “and I remember imagining how it would be just to go inside the lobby when it reopened. The idea that I might enter as a chef never even crossed my mind. I can still hardly believe it”.
Gennaro Russo at Ritz Paris bookings and information :
15 Place Vendôme, Paris, France
+33 1 43 16 30 30
photos © Roberto Salomone