Marco Turatti, executive chef of Publico at the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay chats with The Yum List about his journey into the industry and his views on the Singapore food scene.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I’m the Executive Chef overseeing Publico, which comprises Publico Deli, Publico Ristorante, and Marcello. This includes everything from operations, product quality, managing team dynamics, crafting and innovating new menus and working closely with my management to help the dining venues continue excelling.
My passion for food started when I was about 13 years old when I first started cooking for friends who would visit and found that I enjoyed the feeling of providing for the community. It’s part of Italian culture to learn from our mothers in the kitchen, and I was inspired by how my mother cooked from her heart for others. Eventually, I enrolled in a cooking school when I was about 16 years old and that’s where my journey started.
What’s the best part of your job?
I’ve worked in many different countries and cultures – from South America to the Middle East, to Thailand and now Singapore. The best part of my job is making new discoveries about different cultures, being able to innovate and bring my unique Italian approach to the local context and community through my cooking.
What’s your favourite meal/ drink in Publico?
Publico Ristorante is a uniquely social venue. Everything on our menus, especially our signature dishes, are decided by the community and not the chefs. We find out what people enjoy, then make these the stars on our menus. For example, our Tartufata Pizza, which is composed of truffle, smoked scamorza cheese, porcini mushrooms and mozzarella, became a hit and is one of our consistently best-selling dishes. We wanted the restaurant to be an affordable place where you get great quality food without compromising on the social experience you enjoy here.
The perfect day off would be…
…spent trying local food. Besides trying street food and food at the hawker centres, I enjoy Peranakan cuisine in particular because of its heritage and how it’s so connected to Singapore’s unique history. After all the rushing about, a perfect day would also definitely involve spending quality time with my wife just relaxing together.
A day in the life of a chef is…
…crazy! It moves at such a fast speed from operations at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, through to management meetings and meetings with suppliers, all the while ensuring that my team is performing at their best.
What do you do for fun?
I like diving, trying out new restaurants and being in nature especially around seas or mountains.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Publico Ristorante?
It’s an experience for everyone! When guests visit us at Publico Ristorante, I hope they enjoy a sense of the same exuberant and relaxed vibes felt in piazzas back home in Italy – welcoming open spaces where we savour good food, loud fun, and of course, lots of good drinks.
What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?
Cookies and some Grappa.
What’s your view on the food scene in Singapore?
There are a tremendous range and diversity of dining options here in Singapore – whether it be the old school local eateries and traditional cuisine, or “imported” cuisine from overseas with big-name chefs coming here to set up shop, Singapore’s dining scene is dynamic and vibrant, and I’m sure will only continue to expand in both breadth and depth.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
As a relatively new restaurant, we’re focusing on building and establishing our identity. That involves authentic Italian classics with a contemporary touch, which we do by using innovative ingredients that lend it a modern twist. Moving forward we are looking to continue working with native Italian producers with ingredients that are authentically Italian while remaining respectful of the local Singaporean culture and the environment at large. Our house-made pizzas are the perfect example – we use skura dough which is made from a type of “burnt” flour called grano arso, that gives our pizzas a wonderfully smoky toasted flavour as it cooks in our wood-fired pizza ovens.