Chef Nicolino Lalla rustles up Italy’s great regional fare at the Medici
Nicolino Lalla, or “Chef Nic”, the new Italian chef at the Medici Kitchen & Bar, sets out to bring more variety and vibrancy to the Italian food as served at the Italian food outlet of the Hotel Muse Bangkok.
Lalla is a native of Liscia, a small town nestled in the foothills of the rugged mountains of Abruzzo in central Italy. The mountainous region – ideal for sheep and goat herding – giving Italian cuisine a great selection of succulent dishes and products such as lamb ragu, Ventricino salami, spaghetti alla chitarra (“guitar spaghetti”) and cheeses, which will find their way to the Medici’s menu.
Lalla was born to be a great chef. Growing up in a family with a history of culinary mastery, Lalla regards his mother and grandmother as both great cooks and his mentors through whom he picked up his early cooking lessons and, over the years, built up a vast body of forgotten classic recipes.
He can still recall helping his mother preparing home-made pasta by hand and several indigenous dishes that define Abruzzese cuisine – “heavy, rich with strong flavours”. As a primary school student, he had a real knack for making lasagna and pastries for school parties much to the delight his friends.
“Cooking is a family passion. I started cooking at seven when nobody was home. Cooking has always been my passion, and I picked up skills naturally from my mom,” he said.
At 15 and already well aware of his true calling in life, Lalla attended Villa Santa Maria’s world-renowned Istituto Professionale Alberghiero, a culinary and hotel management school. As one of the brightest students, Lalla secured a number of job placements as commis with leading hotels and restaurants in Europe every summer during his four years at the cooking school. These included the luxurious Grand Hotel National in Lucern and the Olden Hotel (owned by the F1 magnate Bernie Ecclestone) in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Following these internships, he had stints with several other properties at home and overseas including the Grand Hotel in Porto Cervo, Sardinia; the Schweizerhof Hotel in St. Moritz; and the Hotel Baglioni in London.
Before coming to Thailand, he was a chef consultant both in Philadelphia, USA, and in Germany.
Lalla loves working with basic and raw Italian ingredients while regarding fresh home-made pasta, his mother’s greatest legacy, as his most favourite. He plans to put some of the forgotten Italian recipes – passed down from his grandmother – to better use at the Medici.
“I want to bring back some of the forgotten dishes alongside the regional dishes from Italy, all with my own personal touches and presentation style to continue Medici Italian Restaurant to be the Best Italian Restaurant in Bangkok. You will have dishes from different regions that reflect the rich variety of Italian food,” he said.