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Top Brussels chef says cooking really can be “sexy”

by asma
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Heard of the Calendar Girls?

For the uninitiated it was a famous 2003 British comedy movie about a bunch of middle aged Yorkshire ladies who produce a nude calendar to raise money for charity.

Well, Brussels – in a roundabout way – now has its own version in the shape of Filippo La Vecchia, who is widely seen as one of the city’s most talented chefs.

Italian-born Filippo has now done his very own photo shoot which, while not quite in the all-together, does set to pulse racing somewhat.

His objective? To prove that, even a chef – and the sometimes mundane world of cooking – can be, well, “sexy.”

He isn’t quite sure if this qualifies him as “the sexiest chef in Belgium” but his sheer verve certainly sets him out.

In fact, his slightly tongue-in-cheek photo shoot hides a deadly serious craftsman who is a real perfectionist and has built up a formidable reputation when it comes to his trade. Filippo is the founder and co-owner of Osteria Romana, based at the top end of Avenue Louise in Brussels

Osteria Romana, which is regularly sold out, is inspired by classic Roman recipes and focuses on serving authentic dishes which fully respect what he calls “the Lazio tradition” using only the finest ingredients (most of which are imported from Italy).

The result is both traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine, producing fusion dishes, fabulous cocktails and all set in an atmosphere that evokes the Belle Époque Parisienne.

In an interview with this website, Filippo explained the secret behind his success.This, he says, includes a lot of travel, particularly the United States where he has spent many years of his life and where he honed his culinary skills.

He says, “I like to discover new places and new cultures. I am very curious and open to new sensations.”

When asked about his first ever memories of cooking, he says, “The kitchen was somewhat the centre of our house. I was often in the kitchen with my mother. She cooked and I observed and helped her in the kitchen.”

He says, “I come from a family of doctors and my parents have always looked a little badly on my passion for my chosen profession. It is only in recent years that this has carved out a certain importance for them.

“I grew up with a concept of food that was very much focused on taste rather than pure aesthetic beauty.”

Unlike a lot of top chefs, Filippo does not cook much at home saying, “I almost always eat in my restaurant where I know the food is fresh, natural and well cared for.For example, my caviar pasta is fresh, healthy and super simple to make.”

On what he sees as the best recipe in the world, Filippo has no hesitation in saying, “That would be pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli with a rich sprinkling of tuna bottarga on top.”

And, challenged to propose one “unbeatable” dish, he is equally quick to answer – “I have no doubts: my mom’s legendary Amatriciana.”

His favourite Italian dish is carbonara, entirely appropriate because this is the one he is particularly well known at his own restaurant.

“It a real delight,” he says, adding, “but also the very simple Cacio Pepe or the linguine are personal favourites.”

If there is anything that could be considered as “sexy food” Filippo has a contender: “I find the truffle rather erotic. Yes, I must confess that the truffle has a definitely aphrodisiac effect on me.”

He has his own unique way of keeping fit (no bad thing when it comes to working in a busy kitchen and also looking good for a photo shoot), adding, “I can say that I stick to a strict diet here at the restaurant but this is simply by eating healthily and also working out 4/5 times a week.”

Take a peep into his fridge and you’ll also find lots of healthy, energy-busting products.

“Yes, there’s lots of fruit, chicken, avocado and yogurt – all very healthy even if I have to confess that a bottle of champagne is never missing.”

As can be seen from his photo shoot, his body is covered in tattoos from head to toe and, when asked about this, he says, “In reality, tattoos are a kind of armour for me, in life, especially in my private life. I have had some experiences that have deeply marked me.Let’s say that I need tattoos to keep people away. They act as a filter for me. They are a sort of selection at the entrance.”

Asked also how it feels to be considered a “sexy icon” – something rather uncommon for a chef (think the Hairy Bikers or Ainsley Harriott in the UK) – Filippo states, “I really do not know. It’s not up to me to say if I’m sexy or not.”

He goes on, “Believe me or not, there are so many days I just woke up in the morning and I would gladly hide under my hoodie.”

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