Annie Feolde is one of the few self-taught chefs with three Michelin Stars. She cooks rustic and traditional Italian food in her restaurant in Tuscany, and yet she is originally French. Her story is interesting to say the least, and so it was with great interest when I first heard she would be attending Gourmet Abu Dhabi.
After a culinary master class where Annie Feolde demonstrated cooking one of her signature dishes, I managed to catch a few words with her after the masses of crowds and well-wishers diminished.
How are you finding Abu Dhabi Gourmet? Are you enjoying the event?
Yes of course. Because we are nearly at the end it is quite intense, but there are many nice customers, many nice colleagues, of different kinds, from different countries; and pastry chefs as well ... so it has been great.
Is this your first time to the UAE?
Have you been around the Middle East?
Never. We are very familiar with Japan and Thailand, and we went once to Singapore, but we have never been here. We are surprised and very pleased.
When you travel around, do these experiences have any impact on your food or cooking?
No, I prefer to keep my mind on the Italian style. I love understanding other cooking of course. I love it, it’s very interesting for me, but I don’t want to get any influences from outside.
Have you had a chance to try any of the food here?
Yesterday we went to Lebanese restaurant, and it's very different from what we are used to — very different, even the ingredients. This is what I wanted to see.
You are one of the few self-taught Michelin-starred chefs. Can you tell me what inspired you to start cooking?
The need to accompany my husband. He has a restaurant in Florence.
A lot of celebrity chefs these days use TV as a medium to reach out to people. Would you consider working on one of those TV shows for cooks?
No. There are a lot of TV shows. We are too busy in the kitchen to do a program. Every now and then we have to do something, but we don’t look for it. I don’t have much time, as you can imagine, to watch these shows."
What would you say to an aspiring chef? We get a lot of people asking about the best way for them to go about developing a career in cooking?
Learn about basic cooking, and of course techniques and recipes. Be imaginative.
There is a lack of cooking schools in the Middle East. If someone was willing to travel to Europe to learn, is there a specific school that you would recommend?
In Italy there is Alma near Parma. Alma is an international cooking school that is very well respected for adults. However, for young people there are only the normal cooking schools, which aren't very nice.
How has the current economic climate affected your business in Italy and overseas in Japan?
The crisis is all over the world. Everybody feels it and tries to react, but at the moment it is terrible everywhere.
You’ve opened restaurants as far away as Japan. Is there a chance of a new venture perhaps in the Middle East at some point?
Who knows? I never look for anybody, but if someone asks me or comes to me then I would consider it.
For more details on Alma — the international training center
for Italian cuisine visit: