The Philosophy of Umberto Bombana
How and when was born your passion for cooking?
My grandmother cooked for an aristocratic family and my city, Bergamo is a popular tourist destination with a cooking school, a hotel management school, and has a long hospitality tradition. It was natural for me to become a chef. I studied at the School of hotel management and soon later I did an internship with the famous chef Ezio Santin in the Antica Osteria del Ponte, in Cassinetta Lugagnano near Milan. In 1983 I moved to Los Angeles to work with Mauro Vincenti, one of the most respected Italian restaurateurs. In the nineties I arrived in Hong Kong to open the Toscana at the Ritz-Carlton, closed by the company in 2008 to redevelop the building. Two years later I opened 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo and I have never moved from here.
What were the most important and crucial experiences for your career?
Probably my first job, thanks to which I learned to respect and appreciate the quality of the ingredients, and to have the sensitivity to use them the best. I studied art and culinary science and, above all, in my philosophy, I focus on appreciating the beauty of nature and make the most of its flavours through knowledge, technique and passion. For a chef, it’s much better to have his own restaurant, it’s like driving a Ferrari, I decide what to cook and what to buy, it just depends on me.
What are the main sources of inspiration of your current kitchen?
The restaurant’s name was inspired by Federico Fellini, my favorite Italian film director with his film “8½” in 1963, a tribute to Italian lifestyle and art. So I like to tell Italy through my dishes, inspired by Italian gourmet style.
Fassone Veal tenderloin braised celery with winter black truffle, truffle sauce and whipped potato
What is your food philosophy?
Respect, love nature, following it in everything that is able to give in every season. Many wonderful characteristics with unique flavor that can make cooking an incomparable experience.
Organic egg, emulsion and roasted Roman cabbage, herb bread and black truffle
What are the raw materials that you prefer?
Obviously the best natural and biological seasonal ingredients. The most outstanding one, the truffle at its best, the white Alba, for which I was elected Ambassador in the world in 2006 by the Enoteca Regionale di Cavour.
What are the 3 dishes that represents you the best?
Seared red tuna with fennel pollen, tomato and citrus emulsion, Calvisius Elite caviar. It is mediium seared, under the external layer of lightly seared with a tender texture. It is a well-balanced and very tasty dish with tomato and citrus emulsion. Egg in ravioli, ricotta and spinach, hazelnut butter and white truffle of Alba. Another popular dish in both 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong and Shanghai are the cavatelli with shellfish sauce and sea urchins.
A few words on your restaurant
To offer my clients an unforgettable artistic experience of the authentic Italian kitchen.
Ideas and plans for the future?
We’ve just opened a new 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana at the Galaxy Macau in May 2015. At the moment there are no new projects.