Italian Flair: a chat with Luigia founder Enrico Coppolla

Coppolla tells Caterer Middle East about his proudest moment and more
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Luigia founders Enrico Coppola (L) and Luigia Guarnaccia (R)
Luigia founders Enrico Coppola (L) and Luigia Guarnaccia (R)

What is your earliest food memory?

My first culinary memory is potatoes wrapped in aluminum paper cooked on the wooden stove by my grandfather. Besides this, the main culinary memory I have are the scents of ragu on Sunday mornings in the kitchen when I wake up. In my family, and in general throughout Italy, it is customary to start cooking the ragu early Sunday morning and allowing it to cook throughout the morning, which results in an amazing smell that spreads throughout the house, and greets the family when we wake up. I loved that smell, besides the goodness of the product, for the profound meaning of “family” that it carried with it.

How would you describe your culinary style?

The culinary style we created at Luigia is authentic, and respectful to the Italian traditions, at the same time adapting to today’s style trends. We run a clean kitchen, in which the product and the raw material are supreme. The authenticity of our cuisine goes through a deep knowledge of the traditional recipes of the Italian cooking. To this day, I add my style and technique with the purpose of making old recipes that was passed through generations.

What has been your proudest moment as a chef?

I reached the pinnacle of my career as a chef when Gruppo Luigia received the Gambero Rosso award for tradition and authenticity. However, my pride is nourished daily when I decide to spend some time in the Luigia restaurants and listen to the comments and the feedbacks from the customers who are satisfied after their dinner or lunch. It simply fills me with joy.

Luigia has been in Dubai for around a year, how has it been received?

Luigia in Dubai received ‘The Best Pizzeria in Dubai’ Gambero Rosso award which has brought expectations from the customers. In fact, there is always a high expectation of Italian restaurants that are in the market as many people who know Italian cuisine has dramatically expanded. This aspect is even more evident in Dubai, where people travel a lot and therefore have full knowledge of the Italian gastronomic landscape. Right from the start, we had a great success with our customers who immediately loved the veracity of our kitchen.

What has been the biggest challenge with Luigia in Dubai?

The biggest challenges that we face at Luigia is importing our key products from Italy, which makes our recipies so authentic. Our second challenge is training the newly joined staff to Luigia’s working method, so they undertand the dishes perfectly and will give our cutomers the warm Italain hospitality that our resturants are known for. We are very satisfied by the result obtained with the help of the local partners Sunset Hospitality, who have worked tirelessly to stay true to the brand. Their commitment has been extraordinary.

How often do you get to Dubai and what do you enjoy the most about it?

I visit Dubai at least twice a year. It always fascinates me to think about the vision they had in designing and building the city, and when I’m in town it seems to be a dream that has become a reality. In addition I really appreciate the organisation of the country, and last but not in order of importance, the weather, which for one with origins of the south like me, is very important. From a professional point of view I like that in Dubai you can taste the best of every kitchen in the world.

There is great competition and it is a stimulating market because we measure ourselves against the best.

If you weren’t a chef what would you be?

A painter.

What does the future hold for Luigia?

I hope that the future will have great surprises in store for Luigia, such as opening up new markets in which to measure and continue the mission to bring the extraordinary products and abilities of our country across the border, without losing sight of our traditions.

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