Chef Alex Tung is the Corporate Chef at La Grotta Del Formaggio, a Vancouver based specialty food/wine importer/distributor and Owner/Executive Chef of Yowza!culinary + concepts, a Vancouver based boutique firm specializing in restaurant consulting, culinary media and distinctive catering. As one of Vancouver's most vibrant chefs, Chef Alex Tung's passion for food is utterly contagious; indeed, he has always had a deep and intimate relationship with food. Having cooked in some of the top kitchens around the world, Alex has now planted his roots in Vancouver.
Hi Chef, hope you're doing well and thanks for this interview! What is your relationship with Rustichella d'Abruzzo in terms of "quality" and "family"? Then, what is the value of Rustichella for you?
"Long before my first visit to Abruzzo, I was a big fan of Rustichella d'Abruzzo pasta. As a chef, I found the quality of the product to be the best in class and definitely preferred Rustichella pasta based on flavour, texture and consistency. Not knowing very much about Rustichella, for many years, I showcased Rustichella Chitarra and bottarga di muggine as one of my signature dishes. After my first visit to Abruzzo, my relationship with Rustichella d'Abruzzo grew immensely. I fell in love with Abruzzo, the people, the land and the culture. Getting to know more of the Rustichella family on a personal level, I was so impressed by their passion and dedication to excellence. I very much respect the company's global vision; while respecting tradition to it's full extent, the company is being innovative in so many ways. During my first trip to Abruzzo, I was also fortunate enough to win the Rustichella d'Abruzzo PrimoGrano International Pasta Competition, so upon my return to Vancouver, one of my mandates were to showcase Rustichella pasta and culture as their Brand Ambassador. On a personal note, Rustichella is the pasta of choice in my household. My family loves pasta and I love cooking pasta for them. My kids are enthralled by all the different cuts and grains and always come into the kitchen asking questions about what pasta I happen to be preparing. It's such an easy choice for us; healthy, convenient, delicious and I feel so confident knowing about the entire process producing the pasta."
What is the mission of your work?
"My mission is to get more and more people to fall in love with Rustichella pasta. I work closely with the top chefs in Vancouver showing them why Rustichella pasta is the ideal choice for their operations. It's a fairly easy task once they taste the pasta, the olive oil and the other products. This level of quality is not the status quo in our market, so many times the chefs are blown away the first time they try Rustichella. Also with some of the media events, cooking demos, cooking classes and charity events I participate in, I try and showcase Rustichella products where I can. I'm tired of people eating generic pasta and am converting people one dish at a time."
What is your favourite pasta dish?
"I have two favourite pasta dishes these days. Our family favorite is Bucatini all'Amatriciana. First off it's delicious. Our family loves the texture of al dente Rustichella Bucatini and they love the simple flavours of guanciale, tomato and Pecorino. But, my kids especially love the dish for another reason.
After the devastating earthquakes in Italy last summer, I explained to my children what happened especially in the Amatrice area. Since I recently returned from visiting L'Aquila, I also told them about the current state of the city after all these years since the 2009 earthquake. They understood that Italy needed our help, so we attended a few different Amatriciana for Amatrice fundraisers and supported a few different fundraising efforts. So they love the dish because it tastes good, but it also reminds them, even at their young age, about social responsibility and the need to give back. My other favourite pasta dish these days is pasta with caviar. I also serve as the brand ambassador to Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar and feel that Rustichella pasta and sturgeon caviar are a match made in heaven. The Laganelle allo Zafferano with an egg yolk and L'Aquila saffron emulsion, is a decadent dish showcasing the pasta and the caviar in a delicious and luxurious way."
What is the concept of Pasta in Canada?
"In Canada, people love pasta. However, people are not necessarily informed about pasta and do not realise the differences in quality. I try and spread the message that not all dried pasta is created equal and there is a big reason why there is $1 bags of pasta and $7 bags of pasta. As people try Rustichella and learn more about the product, people are getting it and are migrating to a more delicious and healthy option. These days, Canadians are also getting very excited about pastas made from whole wheat, farro and heritage grains. Healthy can also be tasty. The future is very bright for Rustichella d'Abruzzo in Canada!"