Chef Davide Giacomelli is, admittedly, a bit of a romantic. “I’m inspired by the little things around me,” he says. Giacomelli started cooking when he was 14 and hasn’t stopped since.
Today, he is the Chef de Cuisine at LUCE by Davide Giacomelli at InterContinental Singapore, the result of winning IHG Hotels & Resorts’ global hunt for its next culinary superstar. After beating out more than 100 applicants, Giacomelli shares his philosophy on food and cooking and some of his signature dishes that will have you craving Italian for dinner.
What prompted you to participate in InterContinental Singapore’s global hunt for its next culinary superstar?
You can say that I hold quite a romantic attitude towards life and have always imagined life away from home. At 14 years old, I started helping at one of Italy’s most celebrated restaurants in Lake Garda, and at 21, I left Italy and moved to Monaco to work at a Michelin-star restaurant. I believe in following my intuition. I jump at any opportunity that allows me to hone my skills as a chef, which has taken me to incredible places across Europe.
I’ve also met people along the way who have inspired and challenged me to push boundaries, and in 2019 launched my own consulting company. Just when I thought I was ready to settle down, I came across InterContinental Singapore’s Global Chef Hunt, and of course, I had to try! I have always been intrigued by Southeast Asia but never got the opportunity to visit the region. I also liked that this competition gave young chefs like myself the chance to take their careers to the next level. So, following my gut feeling, I signed up and didn’t look back.
What was your reaction when you were told you were selected?
I was over the moon and, for a moment – in disbelief. I heard there were 120 chef applicants from around the world, so to be selected is truly an honor! I am excited for this opportunity to join InterContinental Singapore and entrusted to build LUCE by Davide Giacomelli into one of the most sought-after dining destinations.
Were you familiar with the InterContinental hotel brand before applying?
Yes, of course! IHG Hotels & Resorts is a well-known global chain with a presence all over the world, including Europe. While working in Paris, I met guests who raved about their luxurious experience in InterContinental Paris - Le Grand.
What are some of your culinary goals for this restaurant, and what are you hoping guests will take from their dining experience?
Taking a bistro-nomic approach, a combination of bistro and gastronomic, LUCE embodies the marrying of Italian food with a warm and inviting bistro ambiance. We feature an array of hearty Italian dishes and a fine selection of Italian wine for pairing.
There will be a set lunch menu on weekdays with a choice of either two-course or three-courses. We will also introduce a convivial weekend brunch experience in the coming months. The menu will incorporate a plethora of classic treats that are commonly found along the streets of Italy, including chestnuts freshly roasted over a huge round pan and showcase kitchens that encourage interaction with the guests. Live music will add an element of revelry, while Saturday brunch will have a bon vivant vibe, Sundays will see a more family-friendly atmosphere.
Why are you passionate about Italian cuisine? What do you love about it?
It’s my heritage and something close to my heart. My father has a restaurant in Italy serving local food – he is both chef and owner. Over the years, many food trends emerged. Still, he always stuck to the traditional way of food preparation, using local fresh produce, and making things from scratch.
The process is very time-consuming, but the passion and care he invests into the creation of his dish are always greatly welcomed and appreciated by his diners. I was inspired by him – he showed me that Italian food is more than pasta and pizzas. Instead, it’s the art of using simple and, most importantly, the right seasoning or food pairing to highlight the ingredient’s flavor and freshness. Every ingredient has a unique flavor that requires a different technique or pairing to draw out. The authentic Italian dining experience is never dull – there’s so much to explore and experiment with.
Can you share details about your signature dishes and menu flavors guests can expect to find at LUCE?
The Italian classic, Bruschetta is inspired by the authentic flavors of my hometown. It is toasted bread with grated garlic and topped with Parma ham, fresh buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato concassé, rocket leaves and basil. It’s a simple yet flavorful dish that highlights each component’s freshness, making it a great starter to whet your appetite for the next course.
Parmigiana di Melanzane mille-feuille of fried aubergine baked with fresh tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and parmesan au gratin – showcases the perfect harmony of creamy aubergine with tangy, homemade tomato sauce and rich oozing cheese.
Acquerello Lobster carnaroli rice cooked in lobster stock and served with half Boston lobster and chervil – which is bound to be a hit amongst seafood lovers.
The Merluzzo alla Puttanesca pan-fried Atlantic cod with fresh, homemade tomato sauce, taggiasca olives, anchovies, pantelleria capers, and fresh herbs – features soft, flaky cod paired with the fragrant, robust flavors of the traditional Puttanesca sauce.