What Pop Cuisine Means to Michelin Chef Davide Oldani
Foo’d’s kitchen is Chef Davide Oldani’s centerpiece, a stage on which he demonstrates to a miniature army of guests, with little fanfare and flurry, how he makes his signature dish of saffron fregola. But like any experienced magician, he doesn’t reveal his tricks right away, and this demonstration is but a small window through which one can glimpse the man behind the phenomenon that is Cucina Pop.
The key to Cucina Pop or “Pop Cuisine,” Chef Oldani tells us, is combining affordability with very high quality—a tricky balance that Foo’d has embodied to the detail, from the elegance of the meals that leave the kitchen to its minimalist décor. More than the restaurant’s interior, which dazzles with white swan vases on open shelves, it’s Chef Oldani’s philosophy of serving affordable Michelin-star cuisine that makes one wonder why more people haven’t followed in his stead.
Honored as one of the greatest chefs of contemporary Italian cuisine, Chef Davide Oldani has trained under some of the best chefs in Italy, including Chef Alain Ducasse, Michel Roux Jr., pastry chef Pierre Hermé, and mentor Gualtiero Marchesi, the first chef in Italy to earn three stars from Michelin.
Before the dinner service begins, Chef Oldani announces that the best way for a chef to stay sharp is to head straight to work, as he gestures humorously at the kitchen to get started. As the night wears on, we are treated to four courses: a delectable faux egg with cauliflower purée; a unique spin on surf and turf with USDA Wagyu beef cheek and prawn, served with asparagus spears, trout caviar, and lobster jus; saffron fregola with aged Grana Padano cheese; and lastly, white coffee tiramisu with a sphere of mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate inside.
Surf and turf
White coffee tiramisu
I catch Chef Oldani in a rare moment of calm while everyone has settled down for dessert, which comes in a pristine bowl of white coffee and a stick of dehydrated meringue. Away from the spotlight, Chef Oldani is every bit the entrepreneur, and he knows that while every business has to be profitable, the prices also have to be fair.
“The food must be for everyone, because you have to give people a chance to come in,” shares Chef Oldani, “and for them to come in, you have to give them a chance to pay less. Affordable food will always be the future.”
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