Antonio D’Angelo defines himself as someone who is passionate about everything he does. He inherited his love for cooking from his parents: his mother was a talented cook and his father tirelessly searched for the best raw materials that nature provides. With his restaurant, Molo47, the chef pays homage to his parents. Antonio D’Angelo’s journey as a chef began in Italy, but 15 years ago he joined the Nobu team, taking him on an adventure that crossed borders and taught him about other ways of understanding gastronomy.
How did your passion for the kitchen emerge?
I have always been attracted to cooking; ever since I was a child cooking was taken very seriously at home. My mother was a housewife and the most important thing for her was deciding what to cook. My father, meanwhile, spent a lot of time searching for products directly from producers, he would travel twice as far to buy the best quality. When it was bean season, he would travel out to the field to buy beans from the farm, he always made sure he would buy the very best product of each season. At home they cooked bread with natural yeast dough and in a wood oven. I started in the kitchen for fun, but that’s where my passion emerged and I began to realise that this was what I wanted to do when I grew up. Over the years, my passion grew and I opened Molo47 in honour of my parents.
How did you get started?
The school where I was studying was about 100 kilometres from home, so I wasn’t home from Monday to Saturday. I would work in restaurants as much as I could, sometimes even without charging. I started from the bottom. I remember my first day at work: they locked me in a room full of boxes of fish. I had to clean squids. That day lasted what seemed like a whole year.
I can still improve and offer more. I want to grow and learn
How did the idea for Molo47 emerge?
Molo47 is a project based on enjoyment and fancy. As soon as I stepped on Formentera, I fell in love. I immediately saw my future here, and began to visualise moving here to work on the island. My idea was to work six or eight months on the island, as hard as possible, and then dedicate the rest of the year to innovate and continue learning in other restaurants and with other chefs… Because I am always bettering myself. In fact, I can still improve and offer more. I want to grow and learn. That’s why I came to Formentera.
How would you define your cuisine?
My cuisine does not have a defined identity, that’s why it’s in a seaport. Its path is not completely straight. I make world cuisine: Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Chilean, etc. I like to experience everything that this world can offer. Of course, after working at Nobu for 15 years, I have a solid Japanese and Italian base.
Why did you choose Japanese cuisine?
Because the Japanese are very methodical and so am I. That’s what my wife says about me anyway. I take great care of all raw ingredients, and am very respectful with the seasonality of the product. I remember my origins, at that time the kitchen respected certain protocols, such as seasonality. That is being lost in Italy, but in Japan product seasonality is still very important in the kitchen. The Japanese are fussier about the techniques to be used, the seasons, etc. just like me.
What products from Formentera do you like the most?
I have got to know the products from Formentera this year. I have tried to use the local product, but I think that area is still maturing. There is not enough raw ingredients to supply us all during the summer. I really like lamb, vegetables, fish… Formentera has very good zero km products.
Does your team work well together on a daily basis?
I am very fortunate with my team. We have formed a family. Without my team, I couldn’t move forward. My goal is to establish continuity within the team. We look for people who are professionals rather than people who come to work and spend the summer in Formentera. The problem with summer restaurants is the lack of staff continuity. For me, this continuity is essential for the life of a restaurant or a bar, or for any commercial activity.
Recently, renowned chefs, such as yourself, have been landing in Formentera. How do you think the island is developing gastronomically?
I think it was inevitable, because culinary tradition was being treated badly. Anyone who had a little bit of capital would invest in hospitality. It is different in the case of chefs like me, because we come from a profession and we respect gastronomy, we know it takes a lot of hard work. I think it was time for this change to arrive in Formentera. The gastronomic scene in Formentera over the last three years has grown at a surprising speed.
The problem with summer restaurants is the lack of staff continuity
So, when gastronomy is evolving at such a fast rate, how do you think Italian cuisine is unfolding?
I think that true Italian cuisine is very complicated, but if you do it right, you don’t need much more than that. Italian gastronomy is experiencing a great evolution, but at the end of the day, the customer always seeks the essence of Italian cuisine. To cook high-quality Italian cuisine you don’t need elaborate techniques or much innovation, what is important is fresh, quality ingredients.
What can you tell us about Molo Café?
We wanted to expand the project. We met Riva and decided to collaborate. Molo Café will be a bar with heart made out of pastries. We want to offer the same Molo47 quality but offering sweets, breakfast and lunch. Part of the menu will be dedicated to Asia, another to tapas, another to Mexico and yet another to lounge bar or luxury hotels classics.
How do you combine family life with professional life?
It is very difficult. This kind of work always takes you far from your family. I try to give them as much as I can for the short time I am with them.
What chefs do you admire?
Nobu and Gennaro Esposito. They are my references, one is Japanese and the other is Italian. I also admire Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison). His cuisine is simple, but his dedication really shines through.