The chef and his restaurant  October 2010

High heels and chef whites

Giuliana Germiniasi, chef and owner of Capriccio restaurant in Manerba del Garda, never renounces her femininity. Strong when she needs to be, sensitive always, she uses more than a pinch of female instinct in her dishes – the main attraction of her romantic restaurant

If Lake Garda were to meet the Mediterranean and Atlantic

A dish inspired by the Cantabrico Sea, Mount Vesuvius and the lake

Giuliana’s dish of tagliatelle stuffed with anchovies, wild fennel, pine nuts, capers, cashews and cherry tomatoes from Vesuvius, served with fennel puree is a homage to Lake Garda, but also to other shores. Lake Garda has a climate good for growing citrus. Around the lake you can find lemon trees, olive trees, cactus, oleanders and even capers. The anchovies, however, come from further away but are used as a substitute for alborelle, small lake fish that are no longer being fished. (The fish used to be salted, then sun-dried and placed in a brine.) Instead, the anchovies that Giuliana has selected come from the Cantabrico Sea, on the Atlantic coast because they are particularly flavorful. Having always been in love with the Mediterranean, she decided to use the celebrated cherry tomatoes grown near Mount Vesuvius. Rich in flavor and red hot in color, the tomatoes feed on the lava from the volcano. In this single dish, you can taste the serenity of the lake, the immensity of the ocean and the generosity of Southern Italy.

Ma. Vi.

For male cooks it is easy.
When it is time to come out of the kitchen to say hello to diners, all they have to do is slip off a chef jacket and they are ready to go.

Women, on the other hand, must fix their hair, freshen up their makeup and accept the fact that chef whites are hardly flattering to the female figure.

Giuliana Germiniasi, chef and owner of Capriccio restaurant in Manerba del Garda, has her own solution to the problem: 5-inch heels.
“Even if I have worked in the kitchen for fifteen hours”, she says, “and my legs are tired, there is no way in the world that I would give up such a feminine accessory”.

Beauty is just one of the thousands of things which make a woman feel like a woman.
This is a quality that Giuliana brings to everything she does, beginning with the décor of the dining room, run by her young daughter Francesca, as beautiful and graceful as her mother.
The restaurant is located in a small town on the shores of Lake Garda, a romantic and quiet spot, surrounded by nature.

The elegant summer terrace, framed by hydrangeas and geraniums, overlooks the lake and olive trees. The evening sky fills with color at sunset and the town’s lights reflect beautifully on the water.
Inside, the dining room has large windows and is a welcoming place to hide away during the cold winter months.

In the dining room, everything must be perfect. Giuliana oversees it all:
“I pay attention to every detail so that the atmosphere is welcoming, but impeccable. The tablecloth, the mise en place, the flowers, the candles, the rugs”.

Like a perfect housewife who is entertaining guests, “I try to please my clients, to make them feel comfortable and well taken care of. I want them to have a good time and a great memory of the evening”.

In her immaculate kitchen full of scents, Giuliana Germiniasi prepares wonderful dishes with ingredients from land, lakes and sea

Giuliana enchants her guests not only with attentive and affable service, but with her cooking as well. Her dishes are made with creativity and love.
“I put my femininity into my creations.  They are rich in aromas, colors and flavors, but are still well balanced: a dish should be interesting and innovative to a certain point. People must respond to it immediately. Food should not require explanations.”

At the beginning, like many chefs, Giuliana was a pastry chef. Rather than hide herself behind a crème caramel, she had the courage to “break free from the mold”. (Pun intended.) Although she now battles with savory preparations, she still has a soft spot for desserts, “especially chocolate, which is present in every dessert of mine, even if only as a garnish”.

Giuliana’s winning approach has been recognized with a Michelin star. Moving between sweet and savory, between the dinning room and the kitchen:
“I think of the brigade like one big family. We must respect each other, love each other and help each other out. If someone makes a mistake, they must pick up where they left off and move forward with determination”.

At the Capriccio the evocative rooms, especially the terrace overlooking Lake Garda, emanate a warm and discreet atmosphere.

Giuliana, gentle but thick-skinned, holds onto memories, the way only women know how to. On one hand, she carries on family traditions.
Her maternal grandparents had a hotel outside Mantua and Capriccio restaurant was opened by her parents in 1967, a few miles from its current location. Giuliana opened the new restaurant in 1985 with her husband Giancarlo Tassi, the sommelier.
“I found myself at the center of a family tradition. At the beginning I refused to be a part of it, but then I realized that it wasn’t only my world, but my passion”.

On the other hand, she carries on the culinary traditions of the Lake Garda.
“I believe that the ingredients, products and preparations is a mix of tradition and innovation”.
An example?
Ravioli made with fresh pasta dough, stuffed with corn and Bagòss cheese puree with a poached eggs and truffles.
In this dish, traditional polenta from the valleys near Brescia, cheese made in the nearby town of Bagolino and truffles from Valtenesi are combined to make a well-balanced dish which is soft, yet strong. Perhaps feminine is the best word to describe it.

Ristorante CapriccioPiazza S. Bernardo, 6 – Manerba del Garda (Loc. Montinelle) – tel.: +39 0365.551124

Mariagrazia Villa – Photos by Marzia Gandini

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2 “High heels and chef whites”

  1. I was born here in ADELAIDE,AUSTRALIA with SICILIAN parents from a little Village called NASO,MESSINA..I have my own Restaurant called BOTANIC is very much Sicilian style in its Menu but I am looking for a Chef or two who can speak English as well as ITALIAN to work for me..Summer is about to start here..Can you help me..I left my details already..
    Cono Gianni Gorgone
    ps ..I have this book as well, Fantastico!!!

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