U Barba | Milan.
A chef from Ligura, Claudio Lazzoni is right at home at Genovese restaurant and Bocce court, U Barba.
I felt like I could spend all day in the kitchen with this gentle chef. We started out making a simple seafood pasta, an incredible "torta salata", that was as delicious as it was beautiful, and then was ecstatic when we went into an entirely separate kitchen that was just for making fresh pasta and bread. He showed me how to make focaccia and use gigantic pasta machines I'd never even seen before, every Italian's secret dream, I'm sure.
All I needed was a view of the sea and my life's dream's would've been realized in that moment. A regular guy who is passionate about his family, he is also crazy for football (soccer) with his favorite team being...Juventus.
After our interview we headed to the Bocce court out back for a glass of wine with charming restaurant owner, Marco Bruni.
CGC: Where are you from?
CL: I’m from Ligura, from Tellaro, which is in Lerici which is a part of La Spezia, the last town before Tuscany and I got here to Milan in 1995, almost 20 years ago!
CGC: Were you always a chef?
CL: No, I got here, started as a simple cook and starting as a beginner, I began doing different dishes and grew to be a chef.
CGC: What is your favorite ingredient?
CL: I love fish! When I arrived I worked at a restaurant that did all meat but there is where I learned how to cut and clean and use the entire animal.
CGC: How long have you been at U Barba?
CL: Only a year ago but it’s been really cool because I’ve gotten to learn how to use all these different machines for pasta making that in any other place I wouldn’t have learned.
CGC: When you want to make something simple, quick, and good, what do you make?
CL: I make pasta with oil and grated cheese. Easy. I’m actually allergic to eggs, if I wasn't, I would make eggs.
CGC: But wait, you make pasta! How do you do it if you are allergic to eggs?
CL: There isn’t egg in the pasta we make. But yeah, I have to call over a cook to taste something if there are eggs in it.
CGC: What kind of clients do you guys get at the restaurant?
CL: A little bit of everybody. We get older folks along with the younger crowd, those that are a little unconventional, especially from the fashion crowd.
CGC: How would you describe your cooking style?
CL: My plates are simple, we’re a trattoria. We don’t put a lot of effort into decorating the plates, just serving good food. It’s Ligurian, which has to be simple.
CGC: What are some defining factors of Ligurian cuisine?
CL: It’s made of a lot of veggies, but “verdure povere” the most basic of vegetables and ones that are stuffed. So you might have a zucchine that is stuffed with a mix of egg, zucchine, and maybe bread that you have from the day before so that you’re making use of everything. You should use every part of the animal so that nothing goes to waste, from the head of the fish to the tail.
CGC: If you could cook for anyone in the world who would it be?
CL: I would love to cook for Juventus, they are my favorite team. For me soccer is a passion. When I worked for Milano Due I cooked for tons of famous people.
CGC: Is there an artist or musician inspires you?
CL: I love classic Italian music from the 60’s!
CGC: Do you like fashion? Is there a designer in particular that inspires you?
CL: I do like it, I just don’t have the time to follow it…but Dolce & Gabbana for sure. When I was younger I also liked Ralph Lauren and Fred Perry.
Coat: Ange Wolf
Creator and Host: Melissa Lupo
Photography and Art Direction: Simone Martucci
Styling: Michael Peter Dye
Production Coordinator and Stylist Assistant: Camila Salles