Gabriele Rubini, aka Chef Rubio, born in Italy in 1983, former rugby player: without a doubt an out of the ordinary chef, an idealist and a revolutionary in his dishes and messages, whose dogma and cuisine are made of simplicity, personal experiences and travels.
In 2016 Chef Rubio is featuring in his first calendar by Excelsa, the Italian company that has been in the kitchen supplies business for almost a hundred years, that chose the street-food TV show presenter Chef Rubio from “Unti e Bisunti” as emblem of the brand’s values for their customers.
We interviewed Chef Rubio for West 46th Magazine and he granted us an exclusive recipe for our NYC readers!
Where does your passion for cooking come from?
I was a curious kid, I would often try different foods and I can’t name one that I didn’t like. I was particularly attracted by bitter tastes.
My taste got very accustomed to different flavors. I started cooking because I had to, my parents were gone most of the day working. My ultimate ambition, though, is not to simply cook, but to nourish and excite those who eat my dishes. Cooking for me is a way to show new cultures to those who can’t travel for whatever reason. My dishes are nothing more than me, what I am and what I’ve seen. Behind my every dish, there is a story.
In your TV show “Unti e Bisunti” there are often cinema quotes. Is that one of your passions, too?
Absolutely! I love cinema. As far as the quotes, it started off as a game with the guys from the crew: “How about we shoot it this way? Or that?”. Then on the set we would naturally come up with quotes from movies based on the perception we had in each city we were shooting in. It basically started on the set as team work.
What are your favorite characters or movies you take inspiration from?
There’s many, each time a different one: from my homage to De Sica, to Jean Reno’s glance in Léon, or Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. I could tell you about a different movie each time. Right now: Léon: The Professional, Blade Runner, Requiem for a Dream.
What do you think about American TV shows on food, characters like Anthony Bourdain?
Anthony Bourdain definitely inspired me. I was always curious to see the new places he visited and his approach. But I can’t stand shows of cooking competitions. I’ve been trying to center my life around traveling as much as I can.
Is there anything Italy can learn from America?
I’m reading Michael Pollan’s “Cooked”, and in the middle of the book there’s an analysis on why people like to watch the TV show. The book criticizes multinational companies, but all the while supporting them. In the midst of the balance between junk food and what TV shows present, there is modern food. Americans lack the millenary food culture we have, so they’re curious, they want to learn and be challenged, and they’re presented with a wide range of chefs and professionals. Because they’re resistant to cooking and don’t have our same cultural background on dishes and sharing meals, they’re more attracted to that kind of approach.
The way I see it, if I can do it, so can you. Trying makes you independent. If we awake consciences we can create a world where we don’t have to turn to ready-made meals.
To sum it up, my cooking is intended to make people independent. It sends a specific message, which isn’t about cooking well or not, but rather pursuing independence.
What do you think about the “Veggie” culture?
We owe our culture to the essential use of fire and meat, main elements to our once limited diet. To me this sort of vegetarian “crusade” is somewhat short-lived and extremist. Including a bit of everything in our diet is the way to go to respect the environment and our body. I’ve never been a fan of extreme positions.
I’m going to continue my project with sign language for hearing impaired who deserve to have access to recipes, too. Since the last two years I’m working with the “Sordi” National Institute of Rome for this project. I would also like to work abroad, but never forgetting Italy of course.
Chef Rubio’s recipe: Steak Tartare, Aleppo-NY 1 Way.
BEEF 400 gr
ONION 100 gr
EGGPLANT 200 gr
YOGURT 50 gr
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL 1 Lt
SESAME OIL ½ tsp
CORN OIL 1 tsp
LEMON JUICE ½ Tbsp
BLACK PEPPER ½ tsp
SALT ½ tsp
DRY CILANTRO 1 tsp
FRESH CILANTRO 5 gr
COARSE SALT 50 gr
First off wash the eggplants, slice them in thin sticks. Cover them with coarse salt and let them rest 15′ in a drainer with some weight on them. Chop the onion and season it with the sesame and corn oil, salt, pepper and fresh and dry cilantro, and finally with lemon juice. Dice the beef about 5 mm thick, toss it in the onion marinade and mix well. Add salt and lemon if necessary. Dry the eggplant sticks and fry them in hot extra virgin olive oil until they’re crunchy.
Lay the meat on a plate next to the fried eggplants and season with yogurt.
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