A few days back I meet up with my good ol´ Italian pal Francesco Lonardo. Who works as a chef at restaurantDelicatessen.

Escaping our busy lives we meet up down town Oslo at Espresso house. I´ve known Francesco since a few years back while working at restaurant “Bolivar” in Marjorstuen. He´s just a terrific guy and an amazing chef. Truly passioned for his art.

While sipping on our warm coffees, hiding from the cold rough november weather of Norway. We talking about life, travels and what not.

It´s always such a great pleasure to discuss food with the Italians. There is just so much passion and pride involved. Its in their veins, in their bones, its in their blood. It´s like if you just mention the word pasta or pizza it gets them all wired up.

The Italians are passionate people. You can tell by observing them and hearing them express them self. They´ll tell you their stories with such a intense energy that you can only find yourself smiling. Their intensity of love for food is somehow contagious and its fascinating how involved they are in their culture for food. It is really grounded and it´s a part of who they are, and it shines through in every Italians everyday life.

Francesco´s culinary interest started in the early days.

The interest in food started in the young days with his grandparents. Francescos parent both worked full time. Many hours he where left at his grandparents house on the country side. He explains to me this was a time filled with glorious memories with many long cozy hours with both grandma and grandpa.

Many culinary memories enters his senses while thinking back to the old golden days of his youth. The memories of grandpa making home-made jams on the stowe. With the smell of fruit jam filling the air. Or the fresh smell of the earth from walking through the fields of vegetables in the back yard.

They where picking everything fresh, straight from the garden into the kitchen. The kitchen where his grandmother where making tiny pizzas, or handmade pasta with the famous fresh basil from Nepals. The food was simple, yet incredible, and was only made with the best products. Francescos grandmother was incredibly picky when it came to the quality of the products. She only wanted the best for him an his family. She would never use anything but the best, and she would only cook and serve what became the best.

Francesco tells me its more than twenty years ago, but he still remembers everything in detail. Shocked he looks at me, and says, I thought I never would!

Later on he´s grandparents passed away and the decisions to sell the house of his grandparents where made. The house were sold to a good family he remembers. Later on the when the property where sold there was a big flood and the fields of his grandparents where washed away. Francescos tells me how sad moment it was and how it brought him the tears. The feeling of realizing that all the memories he had as a kid where taken away from him. Though he believe it was in these hard times he made the decision to keep things simple in life, sticking to simplicity, in food, in love, in everything no matter what you do.

The Pursuit of a Culinary Dream

Later on in life Francesco found himself at university studying law. Also at a point where he were getting very sick and feed up with it. Feeling low and depressed. He had an incredible love for food and it had been for such a long time. He made the decision to follow his dream and pursue his culinary dream and become a chef. He decided to face the world by himself and make a change.

He moved to Australia and got a job at a tiny Bistro. They gave me a chance and told me, its up to me. Make it, or break it! I started to do the basic and step by step I started to improve myself. As I learned the foundation of working in a kitchen I moved on to a even more professional restaurant and kept on improving.

frecso-2One a sunny day I remember going towards work. I realized that I had a smile on my face. There and then I realized I was going to work and feeling happy. I was doing something I loved.

I spent a few years in Australia and decided it was time to hit the road again. The journey had to continue and the pursuit of the culinary dream was stronger than ever!

Francesco decided to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina to study at the culinary institute.

It was incredible, I was at a place of liked minded people and everybody was sharing their passion.

A year was spent in Argentina and later on he got a job offer through the help of a friend he meet in Buenos Aires.

Then he continued his path to Oslo, Norway. Started at restaurant “Bolivar”, he also worked at Lousiein Akker Brygge and later at “Delikatessen” where I am now.

Alright, so let´s us start taking about your favorite food. Let´ also talk about your favorite places here in Oslo

My Favorite food?

First and primary it is Italian food of course, and will alway be! Though, I really admire middle eastern food, and everything in about it in general. I find the history fascinating. My dream is to travel to Lebanon and Morocco to explore it more.

My favorite food my mother use to cook for me?

The fresh pasta. The fresh pasta with basil pesto, by far the best! If I where having my last supper, my choice would be my mothers fresh pasta with basil pesto. My region is famous for the tiny basil leaves. Such a taste and such beautiful smell. The freshness from the hills, and the breeze from the sea creates  the true magic with the basils.

ravi

What are the top three restaurants in Oslo? Describe them with one sentence.

  1. Nio og tyve – “It feels warm and familiar”
  2. Piscoteek – “It´s the south americans experience.”
  3. Kasbah – “The food is really really nice, its original and authentic.”

My favorite country to eat in?

Apart from italy? The thing with Italy you can always discover something new.. We have 20 different region. I mean what a fuck is this… Why are we so fucked up?! we could be the greatest country in the world. But we are traditionalist, and we are so stuck to our roots….

So yeah… Italy?

If Im on a budget in Oslo, and still wanna go out for a treat?

I´d probably head down to “Taco Republica”, on torggata, it´s nice environment and you´ll get a some tacos for a few hundreds

What I do if I want to spoil myself, or someone?

If I really wanna spoil myself… I dunno, I kinda just wanna go out of the city to some island, and maybe find a nice cozy warm bistro.

I gotta hangover and need to cure myself…?

7eleven… or just make sure you have some sausage at home… or a kebab place… in Italy I always go to any bakery early in the morning before going home from the party. Eat fresh focaccia, have my belly full and I´ll forget about the world.

Whats my dining, restaurant dream?

Well I´d like to go, any place in the world, sit down with a local family and eat. Then after that I´d go to a fine dining, or just a normal restaurant. I would like to see how the tradition has remained the same, or changed. Then I would like to understand why its changed?

The top three restaurants you need eat at before you die?

  1. Osteria Franciscan. Its 12 tables. The chef goes personally to the shopping at the local farmers everyday. Choosing his best products himself every single day. The restaurant is near Bologna. He says that “we should stick to the tradition, and he says that we must stick to the tradition. Yet, at the same time we must look to future, but with a rare mirror”. 
  2. EatHouse It´s a local bistro in sydney, I remember having my best roasted lamb with pomegranate and roasted figs
  3. Don Nieto Parilla. Asado (BBQ), In buenos aires.

Best cafe to chill out at?

I really enjoy Oslo K

Which place for an after service beer?

Well.. Trafalgarpub

 

I just want to end this post by giving a shout out to my buddy Francesco and say thanks a billion! Im super grateful for your time and energy for taking place in Chef´s Choice series of interviews.

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