Antonio Bongiorno, Head Chef at Lucia’s Doha, explains his passion for food and its special way of bringing people together and evoking childhood memories.

What tempted you to leave Italy and come to the Middle East?
I was born and raised in Italy, where I developed a passion for cooking from a very young age. I honed my culinary skills in some of the finest restaurants in the country, mastering the art of Italian cuisine. But as I grew older, I realised that I wanted to do more with this talent; this inspired my move to the Middle East in 2019. I firmly believe that food has the power to bring people together and create a sense of unity. I see cuisine as a form of art, an expression of culture and tradition and so, I embarked on a journey to bridge the gap between Italy and the Middle East through my culinary expertise.

How do you deal with the challenge of sourcing fresh ingredients in our desert climate?
As a chef, I understand the importance of fresh ingredients in creating exceptional culinary experiences for my customers. I believe that the quality and freshness of the ingredients directly impact the taste and overall satisfaction of the dish.
With years of experience and a deep passion for food, I have become renowned for exquisite creations and innovative dishes. I am known for going the extra mile, which is evident in my efforts to source the best ingredients available by selecting world-renowned partners such as Balfegó Tuna and Uga Caviar I have enhanced the quality and integrity of all products used in Lucia’s kitchen.

What are three things that you always have in your kitchen and why?
Basil has long been hailed for its aromatic and flavour-enhancing qualities in the culinary world, so it’s no wonder that I, like many other chefs, appreciate the unique characteristics of this herb.
My Nonna’s (grandmother’s) kitchen was always filled with enticing aromas and an atmosphere of warmth and love. I would watch in awe as she effortlessly crafted delicious meals using a variety of fresh ingredients. However, it was the pesto sauce that captivated me the most. The vibrant green colour and the aromatic blend of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil left an unforgettable taste on my palate which I now replicate.
Lastly, lemons hold a special place in my heart, as they remind me of the comforting smell of home. I am often surrounded by the aroma of various ingredients and exotic spices but it is the humble lemon that evokes memories of my childhood and the warmth of my family’s kitchen.

What is your signature dish and why do you think it is popular?
I proudly present the Torre Di Crudo, which showcases the flavours of Italy’s pristine coastline. This exquisite creation is filled with an assortment of oceanic treasures, including red prawns from Mazara Del Vallo, renowned for their delightful sweetness, succulent sea bream and a delectable tuna tartare paired with my exclusive dressing. Our visitors love to indulge in this dish which is crafted especially for connoisseurs of luxury and those who adore the wonders of the sea. ✤