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Varsovians: Andrea Camastra keeps the Michelin Star

Ambassador of a new culinary trend called “note by note” – he was the first to introduce this technique at his restaurant Senses and is constantly developing it. In 2016 his Senses was awarded the first Michelin Star. The new Michelin’s guide has recently been published and it seems that he has kept the designation. Today we are presenting you part of our interview, which will be published in an album “Culinary Warsaw” issued by the Warsaw City Council in May.

What is the “note by note” technique?
– It’s a simple, precisely defined taste. To achieve this you should extract a molecule from a product responsible for its taste and multiply it. This is how we eliminate all the additional flavour and tasting notes which the product normally absorbs in nature. For example, mushrooms have additional notes of moss, wood, needles. This is a very healthy food – perfect for those with allergies.

It sounds more like science than gastronomy.
– That is why we mix science with cuisine. Generally, it doesn’t have to be this way. Usually, scientists do their job and chefs theirs. We have our own laboratory on the premises of the restaurant.

What is a difference between “note by note” and molecular cuisine?
– It is a higher level of initiation. We extract oils, clear essences of taste, and we give them structures thanks to molecular cuisine. If you want to achieve something extraordinary in this field, you must posses outstanding abilities in traditional and molecular cuisine. It’s like with a painter who has only five colours. It is all up to him what he finally creates out of it.

How did you happen to get interested in this technique?
– I was chosen. One time, at the French Embassy here in Warsaw, I met Hervé This, a chemist. He is the one who invented molecular cuisine. And the same way he initially passed his knowledge to Ferran Adrià, who founded El Bulli, he passed “note by note” to me. It is a great privilege to be a part of modern gastronomy and to write its next chapters. And a huge responsibility. This technique is unique on an international scale. And everything is happening here in Poland.

What fascinates you in this technique?
– The possibility of creating new tastes – this is something which you cannot achieve in traditional cuisine. Besides this, it is full of challenges, learning new things and techniques.

What can guests expect to get on their table at Senses?
– Liquids, oils, essences, edible mini sculptures. However, apart from these, we serve more “traditional” and “conventional” food – meat, vegetables, sauces as well, prepared in a modern way, but it is a satisfactory portion of food. We use the “note by note” technique when it is necessary and needed.

Do you find products of the highest quality in Poland?
– Yes, I do. Most of the products come from here but we also import them from Japan, the United States, and Italy. Our family and friends have their own farms in Kolbuszowa, where we get our vegetables and meat.

How often do you go there?
– I try to be there every other week or so but it doesn’t always work out. It is 270 km one way after all and I have to be here on site. I spend 14 hours a day at Senses. Sometimes, I am in the laboratory and invent new things, but I also work on a regular basis with my team preparing ingredients.

Is work your entire life?
– Mostly. I have devoted 28 years of my life to it. I started as a kid at my home in Italy. Half of my family are restaurateurs or bakers. Cooking was natural and satisfying for me. Even now, I treat it as a hobby, not as hard work. My wife works with me too, so we spend every day together.

So how does your relationship with Poland look? Did you fall in love and decide to stay here?
– I had a choice. I could have worked wherever I wanted. I like living here, no one forces me to stay. It is a clean and safe place. We have overwhelming nature in Poland.

Don’t worry about me. I want more Michelin stars. A lot of food experts already know that the new “note by note” trend is developing here in Poland and they are flying thousands of kilometres just for one dinner. We know that our guests expect miracles from us every day.

interview: Agnieszka Kowalska
photo: Senses

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