My work has gotten more political over time, but once you start exploring food, you find you’re up against economics and politics and psychology and anthropology, all of these different things you have to deal with.
– Michael Pollan
Umberto Bombana, the renowned Italian chef of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong, is the 2017 recipient of The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. Honoured for his ability to push the limits of traditional Italian cuisine, Bombana will be presented with his award at the fifth annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on Tuesday, 21st February 2017, hosted at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards programme, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award is voted for by members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, comprising over 300 leaders in the restaurant and culinary industries throughout Asia.
A native of Bergamo in Northern Italy, Bombana’s culinary talents took him around the world, eventually leading him to Hong Kong in 1993 where he was appointed Executive Chef at Toscana at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. His creative flair and passion for refined Northern Italian cooking made Toscana an iconic destination on Hong Kong’s fine-dining scene. Showcasing his mastery of Italian cuisine and seasonal ingredients, he earned the title, ‘King of White Truffles’. During Bombana’s 15-year tenure at Toscana, he was named ‘Best Italian Chef in Asia’ in 2002 by the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF) and appointed Worldwide Ambassador of the White Truffle by the Piedmontese Regional Enoteca Cavour in Italy.
Following the 2008 closure of Toscana and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Hong Kong, the Italian maestro launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in 2010. Inspired by Italian film director Federico Fellini’s 1963 movie 8½, the restaurant pays homage to Bombana’s native cuisine, serving refined Italian food with the finest seasonal ingredients sourced from around the world. Otto e Mezzo Bombana debuted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013 at No.39 and ranked within the top 10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three consecutive years. Since 2012, the restaurant has also boasted a coveted three-star ranking in the annual Michelin guide, the first and only Italian restaurant outside Italy to receive such a distinction.
Extending his culinary influence in Asia, the popular chef launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Shanghai in 2012 and Opera Bombana in Beijing a year later. In December 2013, he opened Hong Kong’s first refined Italian trattoria, CIAK – In The Kitchen, and has since expanded to a second outlet. More recently, he opened a further branch of Otto e Mezzo Bombana at Galaxy Macau.
Credit: Bombana & Catch On
Keberadaannya terasa cukup kontroversial mengingat bentukan hewan, habitatnya, serta memang tidak terlalu familiar di kalangan warga yang sehari-harinya menikmati masakan halal.
Namun di beberapa jenis masakan terutama Chinese food, kaki kodok adalah sebuah kelaziman tersendiri. Nah, rupanya ada penggantinya yang cukup mirip dengan tekstur yang serupa.
Daging ayam putih.
Empat pasang kaki kodok setara dengan satu pon daging ayam.
Information credit: Eat Halal
At the Supermercado Mexico in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find a turning spit of pork, basted with chili and onions, dripping fat and flavor. Shave some off into a tortilla and you’ve got a taco al pastor, the classic Mexican street food.
It’s a similar scene halfway across the world in Jerusalem. At the hole-in-the-wall Al Waary restaurant, there’s a vertical rotisserie of beef spinning next to the flames, flavored by tangy vinegar. Shave some off into a pita, and you’ve got shawarma — the quintessential Middle Eastern street meat.
If you’re thinking these beloved dishes might be linked, you’re right. So we hit the street food trail to find out, starting in Jerusalem.
“Shawarma is very, very interesting,” says Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, sitting at the Al Waary shawarma joint. The origin of the word shawarma comes from the Turkish word çevirme, which means “turning.”
“Turks call it döner kebab; Greeks call it gyro; Iraqis call it kas,” Qleibo says. “This shows you the all-pervasive influence of the Ottoman Empire, because all the subjects of the Ottoman Empire eat shawarma even though they call it by different names.”
Of course, the people of the Ottoman Empire didn’t all stay there. About 36,000 people under Ottoman rule left for Mexico between the late 19th and early 20th century.
“People came from as far as Egypt. I found some people [who] came from Iraq,” says Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, a history professor at Sonoma State University who has tracked the migration of Middle Easterners to Mexico. “The majority came from the Levant, as it was called during that time, which is now modern-day Lebanon and Syria.”
The migrants left for the usual reasons: looking for economic opportunity, dodging army conscription and escaping sectarian violence. And when they arrived, they brought their food with them. “By the 1930s, there were restaurants that served shawarma,” says Jeffrey Pilcher, a historian and author of the book “Planet Taco.”
Then the cuisine morphed: “During the 1960s, the Mexican-born children of these Lebanese migrants … start opening up their own restaurants, and they start to create a kind of a hybrid cuisine,” Pilcher says.
“They take the technology that they grew up with in these Lebanese restaurants, the vertical rotisserie — but instead of using lamb, they use pork,” Pilcher says. “They marinate it in a red chili sauce, which gives it that distinctive color, and they cook these up and serve them and call them tacos al pastor.”
Even the term “al pastor,” which means “in the style of the shepherd,” is a nod to the original Middle Eastern lamb version of the dish.
When Mexico’s economy boomed after World War II, tacos al pastor moved from small towns to bigger cities and eventually into the US.
The fact that this classic dish was a relatively recent import from the Middle East doesn’t necessarily make it any less Mexican, adds Pilcher, the taco historian. “Authenticity isn’t always something that dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas,” he says. “That meaning of Mexico is continually being recreated in every generation.”
But whether it’s lamb or pork, tortilla or pita, Jerusalem or Portland, the essentials have remained the same: Fat and fire, a handful of spices, a quick meal — and a taste of tradition.
Photography: Daniel Estrin, Randy Howards, Joanne Rathe
“In a time when it is common for chefs to simply reproduce the innovations of others, the few who speak for themselves through their food become the skilled artists of their time.”
– Charlie Trotter