I asked Caroline Courteau, the guest relations manager, for an opportunity to speak with him. Apart from wanting to take a few of the delicious recipes at home, I wished to understand how the philosophy of Mediterranean cuisine could be so simple and yet one of the most balanced of all diets.
Caroline sends me a message immediately through her new BlackBerry with an appointment for tomorrow at the terrace after lunch and before my treatments. Coincidentally and to my surprise, my friend, photographer Umberto D' Aniello is there and as usual I took advantage of his kindness and asked hm to shoot a few pictures while Oliver and I were talking.
To my surprise, Oliver is German, blue-eyed and extremely serious. Not the typical exuberant Italian chef. It's very hard to extract a smile from him but easier to get a Michelin star (on it's way to the second ) for the hotel he chose to work for after marrying a Neapolitan woman six years ago.
We sit while Umberto works, and Oliver Glowig tells me he has spent 15 years in the restaurant and hospitality business mainly focusing on Mediterranean influenced cuisine.
His first relevant experience was with German Master Chef Otto Koch at "Le Gourmet" restaurant in Munich, a Michelin two-star restaurant, where he learned different cooking techniques for pasta, fish and meat. In 1995 he joined the "Acquarello" restaurant in Munich, an Italian gourmet restaurant with high ambitions. Chef Oliver learned new techniques and started to focus on appetizers and desserts.
One year later, he had the chance to improve his knowledge of Italian cuisine with the world famous Italian Chef Gualtiero Marchesi. After the Italian experience, he returned to Germany to the Acquarello restaurant with the leading role of Executive Chef. In only one year he was able to get his first Michelin star, being described by newspapers and magazines as the ambassador of Mediterranean cuisine in Germany.
In 2001, the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa offered Chef Oliver the opportunity to come back to Capri and measure himself with international luxury leisure customers.
Chef Oliver now leads a team of 22 cooks and offers a wide selection of traditional Neapolitan dishes, personal interpretations emphasized with low calories and the use of organic ingredients. In the prestigious 2007 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa was voted one of the "Best Hotels In The World For Food."
Finally, after enumerating his long curriculum vitae, he explains that the Mediterranean cuisine which represents the traditional way of eating for the populations living in the Mediterranean basin is an absolutely balanced diet based on local products of the region: cereals, vegetables, olive oil and fish.
Wisely combined they give life to delicious and light dishes which are in line with the most demanding requirements of today's nutritionists. You must eat a bit of everything! No limitations of carbohydrates nor proteins, and even less so fats. Olive oil is good for your health, so is an everyday intake of red wine. But all must be in reasonably balanced quantities.
He then confides in me that he never worked just for the Michelin star: "The star is something you acquire naturally, paying attention precisely to detail, quality, but most of all working with devoted passion." His suppliers, that he makes a point to visit and source during the winter season when it's more calm at the hotel restaurant, are mostly from Naples.
In the summer, after such a firm understanding of quality, they already know what he likes and send him his favorite ingredients with no need to even speak over the phone. The menu is dictated by the catch of the day and season. Quite frankly, this is how it should be.
Oliver's dietetic kitchen of the Capri Beauty Farm is a combination of refined art, a rigid technique (German origins) and a holistic philosophy of life where the nutrition gives back balance and energy to body and mind. The characteristics of every single ingredient combined especially with the way of cooking preserve the nutritional quality and at the same time guarantee the principles of a high gastronomy.
One of Oliver's favorite combinations, believe it or not, is the mixing of fish and dairy. (Both my favorites too) Alici (Anchovies) with Ricotta is one of them. Oliver tells me very seriously (proving the previous point), that the Alici must absolutely not be purchased when the moon is full as they are hard to catch at this time and would not be totally fresh. I will try to remember that upon my return to New York City.
The art of Oliver and his team of chefs consists of creating culinary experiences of a high standard, personalized and innovative by preserving the aromas, colors and scents of the different dishes.
My customized diet was created by the Professor Francesco Canonaco in conjunction with Dr. Cinzia Grassi, the nutritionist. I don't eat meat, and certain kinds of sea food for religious dietary laws (Kashrut).
My menu was handed to me every morning in my room with my name on it along with my breakfast so that I could psychologically prepare myself before meals to what was coming--knowing that it had been created to my advantage based on the most recent and scientific research in the field of nutrition.
Apart from being surprised by the exceptional taste of the œdie dishes within the range of an average 900 calorie daily diet, it was really an essential component of my weight loss program; in fact, in association with specific treatments, it definitely represented the perfect formula to achieve my well-being and psycho-physical balance.
Coming back home I really felt much better, stronger and healthier. I adopted the diet that Professor Canonico and the nutritionist Cinzia Grassi gave me as follow up advice through email during the following months in New York City.
Thank you Oliver!
Restaurant L'Olivo was just awarded two Michelin Stars: Check out the Press release of November 20, 2008