Luca Montersino is well known in Italy, where he has inspired a passionate following through his eighteen cookbooks and many television appearances. Whether sweet of savory, he is passionate about healthy food and has always shown a willingness to experiment. He was criticized when in his first pastry shop, Golosi di Salute, he made desserts with alternative ingredients, but his goal was to innovate so that people with health problems and allergies – as well as healthy people – could enjoy traditional pastries.
Eleven years later, at SIGEP, vegan and vegetarian were key buzzwords, and Montersino believes that there is an inextricable link between innovation in technology and innovation in the kitchen. He sees new equipment as the driver of progress in creating healthier, more delicious dishes. Just Duet – the combination of Naboo and Neo from Lainox – features the kind of connectivity, information and functionality that fits with his idea of progress.
“I love technology, it is one of my passions. I believe my affinity for technology is linked to my curiosity. It’s impossible to be innovative without being curious. When I find new equipment, I am eager to see how it can change the way I work and the quality of the end results. I was attracted to Just Duet – Naboo and Neo – because of the touch screens that reminded me of an iPad: I had to know more. Once I discovered how they work I was fascinated by the possibilities and had to try them for myself,” he says.
At his cooking and pastry school Montersino trains the chefs of the future, which he believes requires an open mind about the evolution of both food and technology. His own recipes have changed over the years as he has learnt to use not only different ingredients, but also new technology.
“I also believe that innovation has its roots in tradition. If you do not have a solid foundation and you try to be innovative you run a lot of risks. Having said that, slavishly following antique recipes will not necessarily produce great results because the ingredients we use today have changed so much. We need to use technology as an ally to help produce consistent, high-quality results. Being able to find and set the optimal temperature and humidity in the oven means we are able, like never before, to guarantee our clients a consistent and reliable dining experience. Naboo allows you to do this and more. Being able to program and memorize custom settings for my recipes means that I have greater freedom in the kitchen.”
Setting standards of consistent quality
The ability to standardize recipes and cooking processes is essential to consistently deliver the high quality that customers expect. The cloud technology in Naboo enables this like no other technology can.
“With just one click I can even share my recipes with colleagues. I find that exciting. Being able to have a series of processes and menus memorized in the Cloud also means that the people who work in my kitchen but do not all have the same level of experience are able to produce exactly the same results, time after time. Neo and Naboo provide perfect synergy and they have changed the way we prepare food. There really is nothing you can’t make, but it isn’t just the variety of recipes you can make, it is also the quality of the products,” says Montersino.
Naboo reheats, melts, holds and rises, and this flexibility will, Montersino believes, become fundamental in a modern kitchen. It allows him to cook different types of pastries on different levels of the same oven, each with their own specific temperature, humidity and cooking requirements.
“By being able to program each recipe for optimal results, it’s no longer a question of the operator having to remember or not getting distracted: the oven does it all, reducing the chance of error and guaranteeing consistency. The touch panel is an integral, fundamental part of the oven and is the key to the results my team and I are able to obtain, time after time,” he remarks.
Montersino is now installing Just Duet in his new experimental laboratory where he employs 25 people. It will improve the management of workflow, foodstuffs and stock, which will reduce waste and increase profitability. This is key to his thinking because cooking is a business and like any other it must prioritise productivity and cost management as well as the quality of the products.
Just Duet not only makes it easy to optimize the work of each team member, but it also saves energy, improves hygiene and simplifies maintenance.
“Being able to communicate directly with Lainox about the equipment and do the first check-up virtually is an incredible saving of time and resources, like having a live-in technician. One of the hardest parts of running a restaurant is cleaning after service. Everyone is tired and the worst part of the day is still to come. Anyone who knows me, knows how fixated I am with hygiene and the easier things are to clean the happier I am. The fact that I can clean the oven automatically is a huge benefit. One day technology and innovation will get us to a streamlined, automatically cleanable kitchen, I’m sure,” says Montersino.
“Working towards the kitchen of the future is something I find very rewarding about my collaboration with Lainox. The company has a mindset very similar to mine: it’s impossible to be innovative and creative without being open-minded. This is one thing I really appreciate.”
Technology is driving innovation in the kitchen, where chefs must keep pace with changes in the knowledge and understanding of ingredients. Just Duet will help Montersino to stay ahead of new trends.
“There has been so much progress over the last decade. In 2005, people didn’t know the difference between powdered vaniglina and real vanilla, or didn’t know that real pistachio isn’t. Think of how far we have come: hydrogenated fats are being removed even from products made by large industries, sugar is being reduced and a wide range of delicious products. There is still a lot of work to do, but now society in general is changing its eating habits.”
Montersino’s new television program will air later this year, and he is sure Naboo and Neo will play a leading role.