Foreign chefs in Italy: Matias Perdomo

Foreign chefs in Italy: Matias Perdomo

Solar and straightforward Uruguayan, Matias Perdomo is one of the most beloved chefs in Milan, at Pont de Ferr before and now with Contraste: we tell you his story.

“ It took time, courage and evolution. My cooking when I started would not have been understood ”. Matias Perdomo thus retraces 20 years of work in Italy and the idea that led him today with his Contraste – opened in 2015 in via Meda 2 in Milan –one of the most loved chefs in Milan but also in the rest of Italyto be one of the most loved chefs in Milan and Italy. A cheerful and frank Uruguayan, he does not believe in doing too much philosophy in the kitchen but in the truth of the dish as ” our last gesture and first respect to the customer “. At the center of the experience of his restaurant, he is keen to say, there is the human factor: ” We do not want to teach anyone anything but to have a good evening, we do not want to give a cooking lesson, on the contrary, it is the customer with whom we interact to dictate rhythms and choices. He’s in the center ”, he reiterates, and his well-known mirror menu, the Reflection, expresses this centrality well. The care of the room is naturally part of this process, led by the maître and partner Thomas Piras. Rounding out the team is friend and entrepreneur Simon Press. In all, the team has 20 appearances. Perdomo does not accept compromises on gastronomic fashions, on the contrary it goes against the tide: ” I made my journey many years ago: I crossed 15,000 km to come to Italy, a country that has one of the deepest gastronomic cultures in the world, which has no nothing to envy to other countries even if this primacy is often not recognized for political choices and strategies. If I have to do research, I go to the Marche or Lombardy, certainly not Scandinavia or Tokyo: here I find everything I need “.

What is your relationship with Italy?
I always feel Uruguayan and I often go back to my home country. But 20 years ago I took a journey in search of taste and I landed here 15,000 km away in the most beautiful place from a gastronomic point of view. I’m not interested in fashions. I would not say “ I’m going to Tokyo or Scandinavia“. This is where I find the best ingredients for my cooking and the techniques that interest me. When you know who you are inside you don’t have to go around too much. I understand the importance of looking at these trends at 360 degrees, but you must also understand yourself well and not imitate the other. I love the Mediterranean, the southern regions of the world and Italy. The extraordinary Italian richness, which you do not explore even in 3 lives, allows you to tell many stories also about the by-products, always through my dishes, that the way I express myself. Pine nuts, chickpeas, cheeses: we are always looking for new small producers to work with. The relationship with them is important to us. Then there is the technique which is a bridge to get where you want and there the hand also counts a lot. Because my job is to manipulate the product, work it, not just select it.

What is Italian cuisine for you?
It is linked to the memory of taste, family, childhood and life. And then you have to be careful when handling an emotion. Because if you tell someone that you will bring them Milanese risotto or pasta and beans, you immediately awaken a memory and you as a chef cannot go wrong. Seeing people getting excited at the table gives me immense pleasure, even when a dish upsets it. Like my Milanese risotto ravioli, which you certainly don’t expect. I love to play on the visual effect, I like playful deception. But when you call a dish according to tradition, then you have to respect it. It is not said that you have to maintain the ancient tradition, for example with the quantities that were used in the past, or the appearance or combination of ingredients.

How to innovate while preserving the identity of a dish?
You don’t have to betray him. You can change it but you have to respect the deep meaning. Many of our customers come precisely to taste our dishes – which revisit Italian tastes and flavors – and ask us for them, such as the Donut alla Bolognese or the Ravioli with spaghetti with clams. In some restaurants this quest is not understood, and this is how meaningless fusion is born. That is it confusion. I am talking about a contamination of tastes and traditions while also respecting the history of a dish. I come from an area of ​​the world that has experienced cultural and culinary influences, and not just my country: just think of Peru or Brazil. Societies change and dishes evolve. We like to tell this, but we do it in a straight line. Our dishes are like short films: each one speaks of a story, less told and more experienced. The story is in the taste and experience at the table.

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