What are your childhood memories of your parents’ trattoria in Argenta, Italy? “I remember my mum rolling dough for tagliatelle and making baked pasta. I also remember the smell of roasted potatoes. The trattoria was a familiar environment. “I was very young when I started helping my parents, mostly serving dishes to customers. That was where I learned to understand customers. There is a proper way to convince people to eat good food. In all the restaurants I worked at, I always had a one-on-one relationship with the guest to understand their needs. I didn’t work for a Michelin star; I always put the focus on the guest.” What was the first dish you cooked yourself? “The first dish I made was piadina [Italian flat bread]. I was nine or 10 years old. At the time I was pleased, but thinking about it now, it wasn’t that good. Anyway, I was excited to make something. I liked rolling the dough and frying it. I only used a little bit of oil so it didn’t fry properly. From a young age I knew I wanted to be a chef because I always dreamed of owning a bar or a restaurant.” Tell us about one of your first kitchen jobs? “I worked on a cruise ship for six months and I really liked it. I had to wake up at 6am and work until midnight everyday. At 6am, before the waitresses arrived, I would prepare 200 omelettes. But after two minutes, everything was gone and I would literally cry because I had to make more right away. It was very hard work but it was exciting, and I got to see New York.” Giacinto Rossetti, the owner of [Il Trigabolo] restaurant, taught me the difference between what is good and beautiful. He taught me more about life than about food Igles Corelli, chef How did working at Il Trigabolo, in Argenta, influence you? “It was the place I discovered creativity and that journey continued for 30 years. I spent 10 years working in pure creativity. Giacinto Rossetti, the owner of the restaurant, taught me the difference between what is good and beautiful. He taught me more about life than about food. He took me all over Italy to taste dishes in different restaurants. “He was like a second father to me. I started there in 1981 and two years later I became head chef, and it got two Michelin stars – the first in 1983 and the second in 1987.” Tell us about your crunchy lasagne dish. “When my mum made lasagne, my father and I always fought over who got the crispy part. When I became a chef, my first idea was to create something very crispy. It’s a dish that has three layers, where you have the crispy lasagne with vegetables, robiola cheese, and praga ham sauce.” Did you always want to open your own restaurant? “Yes, but it wasn’t very positive at the beginning, when I opened Locanda della Tamerice, in Ostellato, in 1995. As the owner you have a lot of issues to deal with – like looking after guests, managing staff – and you are not focusing that much on food. A chef should concentrate on food. I later opened two more restaurants, but with investors. Locanda was wholly owned by me. It got one Michelin star after a year. We focused on researching quality ingredients.” Why did you move to Tuscany? “In 2010 I was living in Rome, having closed Locanda. I was consulting for a restaurant client who was a friend, and he asked me to move to Tuscany to manage the restaurant. In 10 days I was in Tuscany and I fell in love with Pistoia, north of Florence. The restaurant was very nice and I could concentrate on the food. “After eight months we got a Michelin star. I opened Ristorante Atman in 2010, in Lamporecchio, and it received a Michelin star two years later. I moved it to a nearby location in 2015.” What do you do at Gambero Rosso? “I’m the coordinator of professional cooking courses at Gambero Rosso Academy, which has six schools: in Naples, Rome, Turin, Palermo, Lecce and Cesena. Everything in the schools is hi-tech. Even when I was working at Trigabolo we were using hi-tech equipment. A lot of companies give me new appliances and, as soon as I receive a new gadget, I will use it. I experiment a lot.” You have been on many television cooking shows. Do you like being a judge? “On MasterChef Italia , one of my students competed so I went on the show as a guest judge to support him, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. I liked doing it and I was on it for seven or eight seasons. Between us, the show makes it look like they prepared the dish in 20 minutes, but [with time out for filming] it actually takes them the whole day.” What do you do when you’re not working? “Tennis is the only sport I play frequently. I really liked playing football but I wasn’t very talented. One of my favourite tennis stars is John McEnroe, and I like Italian player Mario Berrettini. He’s very tactical and creative.” Igles Corelli was in Hong Kong for a promotion with the Italian Chamber of Commerce.