Mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, pasta, and basil are pretty standard ingredients for an Italian chef, but what makes the difference in Giovanni De Ambrosis‘ case is the location in which he uses them: the Maldives.
Born in Varese, De Ambrosis, decided he wanted to become a chef and to travel around the world when he was 13, and he did. He has worked in Dubai, Florida, Russia, Zanzibar, Switzerland, and in 2017 he landed in the Maldives, one of the few countries in the world were the Italian cuisine was unknown. He arrived as Corporate Chef at the five stars “Cocoon”, the first Italian design hotel in the Maldives owned by Alessandro Azzola – with the project to open another resort on a different island at end of the year. The chef began to grow basil to make Genoese pesto, started the three restaurants of the resort and laid the foundations for a cuisine of excellence.
However, De Ambrosis’ entrepreneurial spirit led him to look for further opportunities, and he found one in the Malé, the Maldivian capital. Most tourists head to sandy beaches of the 26 atolls of the country and do not even visit the capital, “but all the business of luxury resorts of the country passes through Malé,” says De Ambrosis, “there are banks and luxury entrepreneurs: it is an opportunity that Italian cuisine cannot miss.” Thus, in August he will open ‘Taste of Italy‘, the first authentic Italian restaurant in the capital, on two floors, with 90 seats, and an open kitchen. For this opening, and for the Cocoon’s restaurants, De Ambrosis decided to overcome the difficulties in finding high quality and affordable ingredients, by having a container shipped directly from Italy with extra virgin olive oil, Carnaroli and Vialone nano rice, Grana Padano, cured meats, and legume pasta.
Ilona Catani Scarlett