Home > The Chef > Crafting coastal Italian fare: Interview with Chef Luca Crostelli

Introducing Luca Crostelli, the passionate Head Chef behind the newly-opened Cala Vista at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam

Luca’s culinary journey began in the nurturing embrace of his family’s award-winning restaurant, where he imbibed not only the techniques of Italian cuisine but also a profound appreciation for its essence. His formative years were spent amidst the fragrant melodies of his mother’s kitchen, laying the foundation for a lifelong passion for gastronomy.

“My mom is a constant inspiration for me in everything that I do. Her success in her personal and professional career fuels my hunger for excellence, and her influence is heavily embedded in my culinary style. I’m proud to carry forward the traditions and passion for food that I inherited from her. And even prouder that I get to work alongside her under Jumeirah,” he revealed.

Chef Luca Crostelli

Venturing beyond the familiar confines of home, Luca embarked on a pilgrimage across Europe, honing his craft in the prestigious kitchens of Michelin-starred establishments. These years were a testament to his unwavering dedication to mastering the art of cooking and his pursuit of excellence.

At Cala Vista, diners embark on a journey of indulgence and discovery, guided by Luca’s expertise, as his commitment to preserving tradition shines in every meticulously crafted dish, while his passion for utilising the finest regional ingredients.

How has your family-owned restaurant background influenced your journey to becoming the Head Chef at Cala Vista?

Growing up in a family-owned restaurant surrounded by my mother and grandmother was my biggest inspiration in pursuing a culinary career. From sneakily eating pieces of fresh pasta freshly rolled by my grandmother when she wasn’t looking to shadowing my mother around the kitchen, I developed a deep passion for the culinary arts from a young age. It also instilled in me not just the skills to manage a kitchen but also the importance of creating a welcoming atmosphere for guests. This experience has significantly shaped my journey in becoming the Head Chef at Cala Vista, where the concept of a ‘tradi-chic’ restaurant feels like an extension of the warmth and hospitality I learned from my family.

Chef Luca Crostelli

What’s the concept behind Cala Vista?

Cala Vista is more than a culinary destination; it’s a celebration of Italian tradition and a welcoming space for a memorable dining experience. We embrace sunkissed simplicity, celebrate the essence of la famiglia, and uphold an unwavering commitment to the Italian way. I aim to stay grounded in my Italian heritage and have curated a menu that presents a hearty and comforting mix of traditional Italian dishes designed for sharing. My mission is to have guests craving for more with each bite.

In the competitive culinary landscape, how do you see Cala Vista standing out?

Cala Vista stands out through a fusion of passion, authenticity, and commitment. The stunning backdrop of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Jumeirah Mina A Salam adds a unique touch to the warm and social atmosphere, making Cala Vista an exceptional choice for those seeking not just a meal, but an unforgettable culinary journey. Its iconic view and alluring Italian charm set it apart in the culinary scene here in the city – from leisurely lunches to sundowners and late dinners, there’s no better place.

Can you tell us about the suppliers you’ve chosen for Cala Vista and the criteria you consider when selecting them?

One of my earliest and most influential experiences was working with the talented Gianfranco Vissani, which has driven my focus on consistently seeking out the best regional products and incorporating traditional techniques to stay true to my Italian roots. We choose suppliers based on the quality of products, prioritising freshness for the most authentic Italian cuisine. Criteria include not only the product quality but also the level of service they provide. Our goal is to serve fresh, high-quality ingredients sourced responsibly.

What are your personal favourite dishes on the menu? Could you share the inspiration behind them?

One dish I’m particularly excited about is the Tortelloni Alla Norma—it’s a simple yet incredibly tasty Sicilian recipe I discovered during my travels. Transforming it from dry pasta to a fresh pasta experience is my innovation. The use of fresh pasta crafted with love is my passion, made with eggs, particularly egg yolk – my most treasured ingredient – brings a level of elevated comfort that is unmatched.

Could you elaborate on the process of testing and refining dishes before they make it onto the Cala Vista menu?

Chef Luca Crostelli

Given my extensive background in fine dining, the menu creation at Cala Vista combines the knowledge I have acquired over the years of fine dining with traditional cooking techniques from my childhood. I consult with my mentors, and particularly my mom, during the process, seeking feedback to continuously improve each dish. It’s a collaborative effort to ensure perfection.

Given the global emphasis on sustainability, how does Cala Vista contribute to reducing its environmental footprint, both in terms of sourcing ingredients and managing kitchen waste?

Cala Vista is committed to sustainability by minimising wastage while still prioritising fresh ingredients. We focus on using local suppliers, ensuring that food is not wasted, and implementing a menu design that minimises waste by utilising the same ingredients in different preparations.

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