Sicilian chef Claudio Trovato, a graduate in political science, has turned his passion for Italian cuisine into a recipe for success.

In an interview to Gulf Times, Claudio Trovato said this has taken him on a career as a chef in Rome, France, Germany, Tunisia, Armenia, to name but a few countries where he worked. Currently, he is the general manager of Cucina Restaurant, at Marriott Marquis Doha.

Claudio said: “I have been in Doha for seven years, I have been lucky to be here during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, it was a great privilege. The Italian cuisine has many combinations and influences from other countries including the Arab countries. For this reason the Italian cuisine – not because I am Italian – is the most complete cuisine.

"The variety of Italian regional cuisines allows me to mix the various ingredients from the north and the south to make a fusion cuisine, this is what makes it interesting. The Arab influence is very significant in our cuisine, especially in the sweet and sour dishes. For instance, we have the caponata, which is a mix of fresh vegetables and we add to them sugar, honey and other sweet ingredients to give the sweet and sour sensation, it is typically Arabic.

"We also use couscous from the North African countries, it is always in our menu, and this is a big Arab influence from our past history. We prepare our food in a different way from the Arab culture, because of the faster Italian lifestyle. When we prepare pasta with tomato sauce, we spend eight minutes to prepare the sauce, while in Arab countries they cook the tomato sauce for a longer time. The concept is the same but the lifestyle makes the difference for us.”

Claudio added: “We receive many Qataris at Cucina, because many of them travel a lot to Italy and they become familiar with the Italian cuisine and come here to try their favourite dishes. I introduced some Arabic and some Qatari dishes in the very important Aleph hotel in Rome, which is part of our holding company. Qataris are well travelled, so they would like to feel at home even when they are abroad, hence the idea of introducing Arabic cuisine at Aleph Hotel.”

On how he picked up the ideas of Arab dishes, Claudio said: “I have a collaboration with the Cooking Academy in Qatar, where I meet famous chefs who showed how to prepare Qatari food. However, in Cucina, people like our traditional dishes like lasagna, carbonara, the variety of Bolognaise sauce, the parmesana, pasta al Pomodoro in which the freshness of the ingredients and the cooking temperature make the difference, it is so simple but so difficult to prepare. We also have very special dishes with a personal touch and this is my mission in this restaurant, to give people the chance to try different dishes. I can cook fresh pasta a la minute, “Pasta Alfredo” it is homemade by myself, I cook it and I use only one ingredient i.e. parmesan, so the freshness of the dish makes it special. Another distinctive ingredient in our cuisine is that we use fresh extra virgin olive oil which gives the freshness of olives. I also appreciate the freshness of the local fish which I use in my cuisine, and you have a huge variety of choice in the market.”

Claudio is also very active in the community, he said: “During my stay in Qatar, I did a lot of cooking shows - for instance during the last Doha International Book Fair. This facilitates the exchange of various cuisines and tastes for the consumers. Now in Doha we have an international cuisine including Cucina which is an international brand. Qatar Hospitality is making Doha a cosmopolitan capital, you find several cultures in a small place. Culture is very important because it is in the food, music and art, and that is why I am involved in some food exhibitions here in Qatar.”

The restaurant delights its clients with food and at the same time spoils them with international music. Cucina singer Vitalia Dupliakina said: “I am a singer and my songs include Italian songs because we have a big Italian community here. We are mostly playing jazz, pop tunes and jazz arrangements, we have a saxophonist, Anna Radko with us. Our live band performs every day at the restaurant from 7pm, except Fridays and Sundays. On Tuesday, we start at 6pm it is promotion night.”