Chef Leonardo Di Clemente talks to Bahrain Confidential about his roots in Italy, his passion for food, and creating unique dining experiences for guests at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
Leonardo Di Clemente is the Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. Coming from a family of farmers in Puglia, South of Italy which is famous for its Mediterranean cuisine, he learned at a young age, to appreciate the importance of fresh produce and the best ingredients – sparking his passion for food. He later worked at a pastry shop with his brother and at age 14, he travelled around Italy to learn more about the cuisines of different regions. In 2000, he moved to London to join Four Seasons and has been with the brand ever since taking his craft across the world.
How do you ensure your restaurants always meet the highest standards of quality?
At Four Seasons, we serve with the highest standards of hospitality and we always aim to exceed the expectations of our guests. I work with everyone in our team diligently from researching to testing and training to ensure standards. We source our ingredients from the best local and international suppliers, guaranteeing the freshness and quality of our products.
In your opinion, what makes a restaurant special?
It’s the DNA. A lot of restaurants mix and match and don’t specialize in anything. Whenever we create something, I always tell my team that we have to stick to the concept’s DNA. I think this is the most vital element for a restaurant to succeed.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’ve planned at the hotel?
We are going to launch our new restaurant 180° by the Beach in Autumn which will be a dining destination featuring elevated Arabic cuisine. Guests will be able to experience authentic specialties by our talented oriental culinary team amid the stunning atmosphere of Bahrain Bay.
What is your personal favourite dish?
My mom’s Parmigiana. She makes it with artichokes that we grew instead of the traditional recipe featuring eggplants. She always makes it every time we visit Italy, layering artichokes with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and parmesan.
What are your thoughts on Bahrain’s restaurant sector?
I have been in Bahrain for two years and I know that the restaurant industry is very competitive. There are quite a few restaurants including CUT by Wolfgang Puck at our hotel, that have received several recognitions. I believe that the increased competition level will push the boundaries to craft new concepts, motivate everyone to be more creative and drive more sources for local ingredients.
What are the three dishes you recommend guests try at your restaurant?
At Bay View Lounge, I recommend the Cardamom Pistachio Lingotto. I also recommend them to try our mezzes, the best selections in town. Our Pinsa is also unique – the dough is made from a traditional recipe in Napoli, and it’s light and easy to digest.
What are your favourite places to eat in Bahrain?
I enjoy visiting David’s Stir Fry Crazy with my family. It’s a cosy and authentic venue with good quality food.
If you were allowed to keep just one ingredient from your kitchen with you, what would it be?
Olive oil. Whenever I travel home [Italy], I bring my olive oil with me.