Alessandro Borghese brings taste of Italy to SIBF 2022
Sharjah, November 07, 2022
Making an animated entrance and full of energy, Alessandro Borghese, Italian restaurateur, author, and television personality took the stage at the Cookery Corner at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) at Expo Centre Sharjah.
Sporting a chef’s knife and a sharpening tool he greeted the large crowd that had gathered to watch him cook and thanked the SIBF and Istituto Italiano Cultura for hosting him. As Italy is the Guest of Honour at SIBF 2022, the crowd was keen to get a taste of the Mediterranean country and eagerly awaited what Chef Borghese had to cook up.
Alessandro introduced himself and invited guests to listen to a story he had to describe how he created one of his most famous signature dishes, Peat Duck. “I was once taking a walk with my beautiful wife and daughter around a lake that had a picturesque orange tree at the far end. It was coming to winter and it was a misty day but there were many ducks splashing around, eating the algae and doing what ducks do. While my daughter was intrigued by the little birds, all I could think about was how I could possibly prepare them as a meal,” he said to a great deal of laughter from the crowd.
He continued painting a picture through his storytelling explaining that he likes to think about his ingredients and pair them with other ingredients that are connected in nature and their environment. “Nature knows best when it comes to cooking, even something as simple as ingredients that share the same colour – for example, strawberries work really well with tomatoes surprisingly,” he said to a slightly bewildered audience who had never considered such a combination of ingredients.
Chef Borghese carried on with his tale regarding his signature duck dish saying, “I thought maybe I could recreate this beautiful scene with the lake, orange tree and ducks through my cooking and started to experiment with the dish. I decided I would cook the duck in three ways and started by curing the breast of the bird in a mixture of salt, sugar and orange rind.”
As the jovial chef told his story, he continued preparing the food in front of the engaged crowd mixing a cure of salt, sugar and orange and submerging the succulent duck breast in the mixture. “I wanted to recreate the lake next so I took a big pot of water and added a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice, seaweed and one of our favourite Italian herbs, parsley, to represent the algae that the ducks were eating on that misty day.”
After bringing the pot to the boil he took the freshly cured breast from the dry mixture and explained that since the process had pulled some of the moisture from the meat, he now needed to replace it, and placed the duck into the boiling pot.
After he was happy with the consistency of the meat, he removed it, dried it off with a paper towel and prepared a salad from the seaweed and herbs that he put aside for later.
“We have now cooked the duck twice, but it can still use some colour and texture,” said the Italian chef as he lit a blow-torch placed on his counter. With a roar of flames he seared the meat to a delectable golden brown and charred the skin to a perfect presentation and it was clear to see that the crowd was enthralled by both his personality and cooking skills.
Finally the Italian virtuoso sliced into his perfectly cooked duck on a bed of seaweed, and to the delight of the salivating audience, announced that he had prepared a whole batch for everybody to taste, leaving the Cookery Corner at SIBF 2022 in a state of culinary bliss.