Chef of the Week: Antonio Cersosimo, Chef Patron at Casanova in Cardiff

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I opened Casanova restaurant in January 2005, with the idea of blending traditional and modern Italian cuisine.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
The love of food and cooking comes from my family, I learnt traditional Italian cooking from my mother and grandmother. I started cooking when I was 6 years old and I’ve never stopped!

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love my job, being a chef is about making people smile and creating good memories through food, I guess I love making people happy.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
The main reason I became a chef is the possibility to work with some of the best ingredients, if I had to pick three ingredients only, it would be a top quality extra virgin olive oil, a well hung piece of beef and sourdough bread.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A blowtorch.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
The most important as it touches all of us would be sustainability, we also have more and more places trying to grow their own produce these days which is a part of it.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
In my opinion too many chefs focus too much on aesthetics and technique rather than spending time and effort into finding produce of the utmost quality.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
At the restaurant we have a seasonal approach in our cooking, therefore I love the beginning of a new season as it brings excitement. I would say my favourite time of the year would be spring with the arrival of new season lamb, asparagus, peas, broad beans and artichokes.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
There are many traditional regional dishes and ingredients that are not widely known to a British audience (sarde al saor, N’duja, Calabria goat ragu’, pizzoccheri etc), these are the ones we are most excited about, especially if they receive glowing reviews.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Most of our menu is made of really traditional recipes that are mostly unknown outside of Italy but we also have signature dishes that are inspired by our travels, heritage and reading.

Who was your greatest influence?
The majority of my cooking is inspired by my mother and my family. My grandparents on my mother’s side were farmers and produced everything themselves, so I had the great fortune to learn how to make homemade cheese, hams, salami, sourdough bread, preserves and pickles.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Alain Passard, Giorgio Locatelli and Fergus Henderson.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Nathan Davies, Stephen Terry and Daniel Rogan.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Restaurant AO.