Who is the Italian chef who for ten years has been transforming the Belgian way of conceiving Italian cuisine and, especially, their taste and palate of transalpine cuisine?
Well, that chef is called Filippo La Vecchia and Everything. EU Political Report took the chance to get to take a closer look at someone who actually looks more like a rock star than a classic chef.
Who says so? Well, an article from a few years ago in “Knokke Weekend” stated: “Filippo La Vecchia, with his tattoos, his sloppy t-shirt and his jeans full of holes, looks more like a robust rocker than a conventional chef”.
The author wasn’t too wrong!
After years of success, thanks to his dishes and having conquered the Belgian capital with his carbonara, it is a good time to get to know this iconic Italian chef more closely.
In a few years he created what many believe is the coolest Italian restaurant in the capital, undoubtedly a chic and emblematic address.
Filippo is the founder and co-owner of Osteria Romana, based at the top end of Avenue Louise in Brussels.
Osteria Romana, which is regularly sold out, is inspired by classic Roman recipes and focuses on serving authentic dishes which fully respect what he calls “the Lazio tradition” using only the finest ingredients (most of which are imported from Italy).
The result is both traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine, producing fusion dishes, fabulous cocktails and all set in an atmosphere that evokes the Belle Époque Parisienne.
In an interview with this website, Filippo explained the secret behind his success. This, he says, includes a lot of travel, particularly the United States where he has spent many years of his life and where he honed his culinary skills.
He says, “I like to discover new places and new cultures. I am very curious and open to new sensations.”
When asked about his first ever memories of cooking, he says, “The kitchen was somewhat the centre of our house. I was often in the kitchen with my mother. She cooked and I observed and helped her in the kitchen.”
He says, “I come from a family of doctors and my parents have always looked a little badly on my passion for my chosen profession. It is only in recent years that this has carved out a certain importance for them.
“I grew up with a concept of food that was very much focused on taste rather than pure aesthetic beauty.”
Unlike a lot of top chefs, Filippo does not cook much at home saying, “I almost always eat in my restaurant where I know the food is fresh, natural and well cared for.For example, my caviar pasta is fresh, healthy and super simple to make.”
On what he sees as the best recipe in the world, Filippo has no hesitation in saying, “That would be pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli with a rich sprinkling of tuna bottarga on top.”
And, challenged to propose one “unbeatable” dish, he is equally quick to answer – “I have no doubts: my mom’s legendary Amatriciana.”
His favourite Italian dish is carbonara, entirely appropriate because this is the one he is particularly well known at his own restaurant.
“It a real delight,” he says, adding, “but also the very simple Cacio Pepe or the linguine are personal favourites.”
If there is anything that could be considered as “sexy food” Filippo has a contender: “I find the truffle rather erotic. Yes, I must confess that the truffle has a definitely aphrodisiac effect on me.”
He has his own unique way of keeping fit (no bad thing when it comes to working in a busy kitchen and also looking good for a photo shoot), adding, “I can say that I stick to a strict diet here at the restaurant but this is simply by eating healthily and also working out 4/5 times a week.”
Take a peep into his fridge and you’ll also find lots of healthy, energy-busting products.
“Yes, there’s lots of fruit, chicken, avocado and yogurt – all very healthy even if I have to confess that a bottle of champagne is never missing.”
His body is covered in tattoos from head to toe and, when asked about this, he says, “In reality, tattoos are a kind of armour for me, in life, especially in my private life. I have had some experiences that have deeply marked me.Let’s say that I need tattoos to keep people away. They act as a filter for me. They are a sort of selection at the entrance.”
Asked also how it feels to be considered a “sexy icon” – something rather uncommon for a chef (think the Hairy Bikers or Ainsley Harriott in the UK) – Filippo states, “I really do not know. It’s not up to me to say if I’m sexy or not.”
He goes on, “Believe me or not, there are so many days I just wake up in the morning and would gladly hide under my hoodie.”