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Meet the People: Raffaele Caggegi

Chef Raffaele Caggegi kicks off the Confidential list of city people. From movers and shakers to geniuses and nutters we’ll be interviewing Manchester for you.

Published on March 29th 2007.

Meet the People: Raffaele Caggegi

Name Raffaele Caggegi

Where do you work? San Carlo, King Street West and I’m one of the head chefs in a team of 22. I’ve been here for 6 months.

With that accent you’re not a Manc then? No, I’m a Sicilian from Taormina. The place with the Roman theatre and Mount Etna behind.

So how did you end up here? San Carlo asked me and I like the restaurants. I used to work for them before in Birmingham and that was 1998. I’ve worked all over the world, cooked in many different places, I even cooked for Pele in Amsterdam. But I’ve always liked England. It’s given me a lot, including my own restaurant in 1989.

And Manchester versus Birmingham? With all the changes in the city I prefer Manchester to Birmingham.

Course you do. Tell us why you like slaving in a kitchen? Because it’s my life. Food to me is everything. It doesn’t matter how many hours you do in the kitchen as long as you enjoy it. I even cook at home, and for friends, as long as I have food in my hands I create. I’m always cooking.

Very Italian, very passionate. So what’s your idea behind the cooking? I have one philosophy which is to express the essence of my country and the main protagonist of the cuisine is the genuine and natural ingredients. It has to have a story to relate to your mind. I then like to create a dish with soul.

A dish with soul, wow. So what’s it like working in San Carlo? Perfect for me. It’s always busy and I like that, you’ve got to be fast, and you have to concentrate, you might be cooking 300-400 meals at busy times. I also like the fact we import fresh fish everyday, our delight is fish more than meat.

The scales have fallen from our eyes. How do you unwind and please don’t say by cooking. I read a lot but always on the cooking side. And I like scuba diving, antique furniture and gardening, I like to grow my herbs and little plants at home and I use them in the things I cook.

We’re beginning to worry about you Raffaele. What’s the dish you’ve prepared here?It one of my favourites and mingles, I hope, creativity, flavour and good presentation. I roll one of my favourite cold water fishes, sole, sushi style with citrus butter and green olives, serve with a tatara of tomato, saffron potatoes and green beans with cream of chive sauce. It comes in at £16.50 and is a dish with good balance.

Well you did say you liked to cook with soul.

San Carlo is at King Street West in the city centre. For details call 0161 834 6226 www.sancarlo.co.uk

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