Chef's Talk

Chef Alessandro Frau

Alessandro Frau fuses the timelessness of tradition with the modernity of now to present what foodies have now come to recognize as Frau’s brand of experimental Evolution of Italian cuisine, which is a new take of reinterpretation, presentation and creations of his vision of Italian food. Alessandro helms two restaurants in Thailand, Acqua Phuket and Acqua Bangkok.

Sardinia home town of Chef Alessandro gave an unlimited inspiration for his cooking and creations, Island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sardinia is surrounded from excellent seafood specialty, without forget the inside of the island where home made cheeses, salami and an infinity of specialty from the ground, with a particular genuinely and passionate quality that today you can’t find everywhere, still present in small realities as the artisanal producers from Sardinia, this give to Chef Alessandro continue inspirations for his cooking which he describe as perfect natural ingredients at their best fused in an artistic interpretation of tastes, colors and taste combinations.


Was your decision to become a chef conscious or did you fall into it?

As Italian, for us all is around food, family meals, wine and cooking, so my cooking base was quiet ok, until I went in London to study English language and I end up by case to work in a restaurant, so I was very lucky to discover this unknow passion that became my profession.


What are some emerging food trends that you’re noticing?

After all the molecular and modernist trends I noticed that many Chefs including me since quiet long time, are rediscovering old dishes, traditional recipes in modern reinterpretation, using new cooking techniques and ingredients with a new reinterpretation in a evolutive way, including presentation.


What’s an emerging ingredient that you’re using a lot of these days?

Sicilian Red prawns is something we start to use approximately since 7 years ago, when in Thailand nobody was using this ingredient, now you can find in many menus, for me still now is one of my favourite ingredients to use.


What would you cook at home if you were just making a laid-back dinner?

Lasagna and Chicken Cacciartora style is what make me happy and take me back to memories of my family meals.


What’s the difference between running a restaurant in Europe and running one in Phuket?

Beside all the bureaucracy differences of each continent, I would say that the staff is the mayor difference, this is the challenging part, as if you cook Italian food with Italian people it is quiet normal as this is part of the culture of each person, of course when you cook Italian food with Thai people is it normal that as they have different culture and habits this will be more challenging and this require more energies from the Chef and different thinking to make sure all is up to the level. Also the search of ingredients is a big difference, as in Europe you will find all easily in every local market, but here we have big challenge to search and plan all the shipments between Europe and Thailand.


Do you source as much local produce as possible for each restaurant and does this have a big impact on the menu?

Unfortunately not, as an Authentic Italian Restaurant we cannot create our dishes with the Thai local ingredients, we have to deliver the original taste, texture and look as if you are in Italy, for example, if you eat a simple spaghetti with prawns, I cannot serve you with local Tiger prawns, as the texture, taste, colour is totally different and the same if I serve a Mediterranean Branzino or a local Thai Barramundi which can look similar but not same. Than of course all that ingredient that do not even exist in Thailand as Truffe, Italian cheeses, hams, meats etc…. we are really focused to give you an experience as if you are in Italy!


How is people’s relationship with food different in South East Asia?

This is an aspect that is quiet similar, especially with my culture as South Italian is very similar in this part of Asia, all is shared with family and friends experiences, is a very important moment in both parts, we have and they have big culture and is all sectioned between regions of each countries and people are really into food at all levels, of course with different tastes.


Is there one dish that sums up your style?

Raw Sicilian prawns, with lime zest, Sardinian extra virgin olive oil, buffalo mozzarella cream and some nice charcoal toasted Italian country bread, this is the way I like to eat and the way I like to transmit on my creations, simplicity, freshness and cleanliness of the taste, but sophisticated at the same time using new cooking technique, combinations and presentation.


Will any of the dishes you discovered recently be making their way onto your menus?

We always run beside the menu some specials outside the menu, this dishes will be considered as permanent dishes for the menu only if they are very popular between our customs.


If you had to move somewhere other than Phuket, where would you go?

At the moment we are planning our new Acqua Ristorante in Bangkok, so I will spend a lot of time in Bangkok also, but if I have to choose a place outside Thailand could be USA or Italy.


Do you try out dishes on your family or friends?

Mainly we try with our regular customers and if they like them we will add them on our regular menu a la carte.


What do you think the most important qualities are in a young chef?

Passion and humility are best quality of a Chef at all ages and levels.


What do you think about chefs like Gordon Ramsay, who have taken haute cuisine to the masses via reality TV?

Why not! I’m not against it, especially chefs like Gordon Ramsey demonstrated to all of us their skill and their achievements, he was one of the first British Chefs to achieve 3 Michelin stars, so for sure he can cook and he have something to teach to people and make some fun and business out of this, so I do not see anything wrong on it!
I see something wrong when I see Chefs that they never be anything of anyone in the food scene and they improvise themselves as TV Chefs or something similar.


What’s the one cooking tool that a Chef should not be without?

Now days I thing that a vaccum pack machine and a sous-vide are very essential in a kitchen of a certain level.


What’s next for you?

Next will be the opening of Acqua Ristorante Bangkok as soon the covid situation is under control, than I wish one day to develop the brand Acqua in other big cities around the world like New York, London and one day Italy of course!