Terry Giacomello in Top Shape, Hyper-Technic Cuisine at Nin Delights Guests
The Return of Italy's Most 'Catalan' Chef: Terry Giacomello's Technique Serves Taste, as Demonstrated in Nin's Tasting Menu. We Asked Him to Share the Creative Genesis of His Dishes, Starting with a Very Unique Amuse Bouche.
It took some time
It took some time to find Terry Giacomello back in the kitchen. Not that he ever stopped cooking and creating new dishes, but his absence from a restaurant as a chef after Inkiostro in Parma was noticeable. Finally, we found him, in top shape and with that constant present smile, in a new location. The place is Brenzone, on Lake Garda, inside the Belfiore Park Hotel, and it's called Nin.
"Nin" in the chef’s dialect, who is originally from Montereale Valcellina in Pordenone, means "child." It's indeed a childlike spirit that animates Terry Giacomello's hyper-technic and playful cuisine, where he enjoys entertaining his guests. As the son of a cook who unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him from following the same career path, Terry fell in love with cooking at a young age and attended a hospitality school in Longarone.
Journey of seasons
He went through the typical journey of seasons, cooking alongside his uncle, who was also a chef, in some hotels. Then, at the age of twenty, he started moving around and experience kitchens of all kinds, in Italy at Rosalpina with Niederkofler and Met with Fasolato, to renowned establishments in Spain, including Andoni Luis Aduriz's Mugaritz and Ferran Adrià's El Bulli (Terry is known as the most Catalan of Italians). His journey also included stops at Noma, D.O.M. with Alex Atala, Marc Veyrat, and Michel Bras. It's an impressive professional path for a chef who, after fifty years, has the energy of a thirty-year-old on the rise and a strong and entirely personal gastronomic identity, with an exhilarating quest for originality that makes him say: "The cuisine must be yours; you shouldn't be identified as someone's child. If I copy from someone else, it wouldn’t be my creation." Terry doesn't offer traditional cuisine because he believes in the necessity to entertain and excite, always challenging himself and renewing his approach.
All this, of course, involves trying and retrying, but with a spirit that is also playful: "I have fun; I'm like a child playing, trying and retrying until I find what I want. Creativity can sometimes be suffering because seeking something new is not easy at all. It requires a lot of sacrifice and patience." In his dishes, you can find elements that go hand in hand in great cuisine: they are a perfect synthesis of technique and taste, with a meticulous attention to aesthetic details. As he himself states: "It makes no sense to work so hard if the taste isn't there."
Giacomello has been foraging before the term even came into existence, and he's also very attentive to sustainability, especially in terms of zero waste. Equally, he constantly searches for new ingredients that can stimulate his legendary creativity. Regarding the collection of wild edible plants, it's important to note that practicing foraging correctly is not always straightforward and can cause damage to the ecosystem. That's why it's a path to be followed with awareness and knowledge. Similarly, there are ethical companies that allow sourcing what reckless foraging wouldn't permit: one world doesn't necessarily exclude the other. With his long-time sous chef Mirko Pacifico and a team of highly motivated young individuals, Terry operates at very high levels from Nin. Nothing is left to chance in the two tasting menus, starting from the amuse bouche, which plays a fundamental role.
Seaweed Ravioli with artichoke pâté, rice vinegar, Floregano, tree tomato
Speaking of companies aligned with an ethical culinary philosophy, capable of producing with respect for nature and environmental and social sustainability, Terry chose to use, for one of his dishes, the Aikiba Leaves from Koppert Cress. Originating from Oceania, these leaves are also known as "lady's fingers," "jungle spinach," or "okra." Scientifically known as Abelmoschus, these leaves are rich in proteins, vitamins A and C, and serve as an excellent supplement for a vegetarian or vegan diet.
The chef explains: "I used the 'twig' of Aikiba for its captivating shape and its juicy and tangy flavor, envisioning to create an entrée served in ice in a small wooden container, like a small salad. I covered it with tosazu, a smoked rice vinegar, and garnished it with unusual leaves of tea, lemon balm, tagetes, red clover, chive flower, papalo, and red amaranth."
Terry Giacomello's amuse bouche