CHEF, Three Michelin Stars
Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road
Central, Hong Kong.
Umberto Bombana received me in his awarded three Michelin Stars restaurant, amazing! I was ready for the interview and for the wonderful menu tasting! (I’ll explain in detail tomorrow).
Chef Bombana sat with me in my VIP table and we had a long chat. He is quiet, close, creative, thoughtful, meditative and a very nice man with a huge lovely smile. His italian accent makes him even more adorable to me. He feels passion for his work; he likes philosophy, has a big heart and loves to enjoy life and its pleasures. He is always creating, improving and experimenting.
“Chef Umberto Bombana´s steadfast philosophy ”“ to respect nature, to love nature, to follow nature ”“ has set his culinary direction as a unique and well-respected one, leading 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA one of the most notable restaurants in the world!”
THE FAIRY GODMOTHER QUESTIONS
Do you believe in fairy tales?
Not really! I am very practical.
Red wine, white, rosé or champagne?
Different moment, different time, different pleasure.
Where and when are you happy?
When I am working, when I see my team producing, when the restaurant is busy and the guest enjoy the food and when I see vibration on the restaurant.
Also when I spend time with my wife and children is what I really like.
What is your biggest fear?
Destroying the world!
What is the defect that most hate in others?
What makes you smile?
First thing in the morning when I see the people that I love and the sun, I realize that its time to smile.
What makes you sad?
The suffering of children, of people.
What do you consider your greatest achievement has been?
I realized my dream so that´s my biggest achievement!.
What is your slogan?
Love and wealth.
A toast to?
Because is a miracle to be alive, a toast to life!
Which two things have to have the house of your dreams?
Books and art.
How many alarms do you put every morning?
I wake up for myself!.
Day or night?
Hard to choose!…
Are you superstitious?
Breakfast, appetizer, brunch, lunch or dinner?
Inter Milan!!! hahaha
THE “PIRULA” WITCH GOSSIP
Do you miss someone?
I think I miss people that passed away!
Who has given you a life lesson?
I think you get a lesson everyday!
Blonde, brunette, redhead?
I like brunette! Yes, dark hair.
What nationality seems sexiest to you?
South America, Spain, Italian! so! latin people (Smile).
Saver or spender?
Poker, roulette or black Jack?
I don´t use to bet.
Something very disgusting?
Something putrefied hahaha
Do you have price?
Price, price, price!. Mmmmm! you can buy me in the work, but you cannot buy my heart or my soul.
Did you cheated on exams?
Hahhahah maybe sometime yes !
Have you cried for love?
Did someone defraud or betray you?
Do you regret anything?
You cannot really regret!
Do you believe in God or something?
Of course, must be a God.
CHEF, Three Michelin Stars
You have been born in Bérgamo, Northern Italy, how do you remember your childhood?
Growing up in the southern part of the Alps means a lot of space, mountains, nature, freedom! you are a kind of free child, no like here! My childhood was really, really amazing!.
When started your passion for cooking?
Really young! I see my grand mother, my mother and my father sometimes! so I started to be fascinated by that. My town is like a winter resort, people go to sky, there are a lot of beautiful hotels and restaurants, and chefs are very respected, so I was captivated for the gastronomy world, and also I think that European like to eat hahah so!
You have been working in Italy, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. You had your restaurant Toscana at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, how do you remember that time?
That time was beautiful! Really beautiful, the hotel, the people, the Ritz Carlton keep Toscana like a beautiful amenity, was really nice to express myself there!
Then they built a bank where the Hotel was! What were your thoughts?
Was very fun and confortable working there so I was sad because they were closing the hotel and it was part of my career, par of my clientele! part of me was unhappy and part of me was very happy as well because I knew that I wanted to do something else and that I wanted my own thing. I didn´t even consider new offers or moving, I believe the opportunity to open my restaurant was good, it was the right moment.
After that you open 8 E Mezzo Bombana, what is the difference between working in a Hotel and having your own restaurant? You had many job amazing offers! why you choose the hard way?
Is completely different, here I do what ever I want hahaha, in the hotel there is a lot of layout, the General Manager, food and beverage budget! even if I run Toscana for my own you have to ask to spend some money, and here you do it much faster, if I want to change something I will do it, as long as you have money of course! (smile).
What means cooking for you?
It´s a beautiful way to express myself. It´s what I do everyday, it´s what I am, I am here to do this and is for this that I am in this world, this is my mission.
If I say Federico Fellini´s ! (1963 biographical movie classic. Like the film director, Bombana is a maestro of his art).
Is a dream, a fantasy, philosophy, is something that touch your heart, something new, means a lot of things to me. Art or painting stays forever, the food goes fast, really fast (smile).
You are informally known as the “King of Truffles” and more officially, as “Worldwide Ambassador of the White Truffle” since 2006. Did you get that reputation because of the charity auctions?
Hahaha (timid) Yes! I guess! I started to work with truffle when I came to Hong Kong and people got fascinated.
Is a status, not everybody can have them, they are expensive! I just wanted to try! its a joy of autumn, is a beautiful gift of nature and we must celebrate like that, is a wonderful thing!
What’re the biggest changes you have notice between Italy and Hong Kong? Quality, food, culture!
The transport of course, the travel, but in Hong Kong there is no tax of importation, and there is minimum restriction for the food, so you can import everything from everywhere, there is a transportation cost, but we have all. I order the food from Japan or wherever and the day after I have the material here, from Australia, from Europe, is 12 hours away, is not bad! From the market in Paris, like everybody, you make the order, they buy the day after and in maximum one day I have the product here, so with technology and everything flying cold, is not a problem. The world is smaller; it´s a big change since I started. Also people in the city are demanding so we have to offer good food and very good quality. I think for restaurants and chefs, Hong Kong is probably one of the best places in the world to be. In Italy, for example, you have the majority of the product from there, here I have product for all around the world!
Three Michelin Stars awarded, just amazing, Best Italian restaurant in Asia and one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world list, what that mean for you? Which one is the best reward?
Everything is equally important! maybe 50 Best Restaurants is a wonderful organisation and is more new and is great, but Michelin Star is the most prestigious award that I am proud of, makes me feel confortable, and keep going, also is really trustable for the costumers. ! they are different awards! anyway, as I said, they are evenly important to me and an honour.
What are you going to do to keep them?
Hard working and a lot of passion, is not easy!
Which is your favourite place or restaurant to go with your family?
They like everything, Cantonese restaurant, Japanese, and we love Catalunya Restaurant!.
What is necessary for being a great chef like you?
For me you have to have passion and sensibility is really important, and you have to respect the food, is a beautiful gift of nature.
Timing and product is the most important for you?
For me the most important still the product, and then technics, also I have a very fantastic team, and is really nice and important, I am really happy, they really care about everything, they are really committed, they have the same dream as me so I don´t need to lead because we go the same direction.
Is there anyone that would you like to cook for?
Anybody with hungry!! Hahahaha (big smile).
Your ingredient will be the truffle?
Truffle is beautiful but I thing all ingredient is equality important form carrot to onion, to! is like choosing one colour, impossible!! Everything is to have a beautiful expression.
I don´t put myself any limitation, I use to cook with everything that is pleasant to me.
Could you explain me a funny or crazy history that happened to you? Any disaster in the kitchen?
Disasters happen all the time! (laughing), but I don´t know how we solve them all the time! hahaha In Italy we do a lot of improvisation 😉 solving problems at the last minute is very Italian (laughing again).
If I say Krug you say!
Perfection, is the really achieve of perfection of champagne, is an inspiration.
Do you have any other projects for the future?
Yes, a casual restaurant, CIAK ”“ In The Kitchen, the first refined Italian trattoria in Hong Kong, just next door!.
“The restaurant is Chef Bombana´s first culinary project after he received three Michelin stars for the third consecutive year. The grand opening ceremony was held on December 8, 2013. Top executives of Lai Sun Group and Chef Bombana participated in the ceremony. After a series of activities ”“ ribbon cutting, lion dance and inking the eyes, CIAK ”“ In The Kitchen officially opens!”
How do you define yourself?
Myself! well! I guess messy and a bit lazy (smile), I try to change, to create, and I need time to think and break with the routine, I want to have time to invent so if you ask to me! yes, I am sometimes lazy and sometimes I feel I don´t do enough and I think I have to do more and more! I enjoy doing what I do!.
Which will be your dreamed fairy tale?
Flying!!! Actually on my dreams I use to fly!!! Do you fly when you dream?
Yes Umberto, I use to fly a lot!! I also fly without dreaming!!!
What would you say to our readers?
Follow the blog!. And go to the restaurant, relax, try to talk to the chef, be free and always try to be confortable with what you do!
Thanks Umberto for an astounding menu tasting, marvellous meal and a wonderful long chat!
Thanks so much for your time! It´s been an honour to me!