Luigi Calcagno – Multidimensionalist

A Q&A with Style Compass Media, Apr 2016

Photo:   Philippe Milliat

Please introduce yourself
Hi, I’m Luigi Calcagno. I am a Chef/Restaurateur, of Zibiru Restaurant & Bottega Italiana Bali.

Where are you from?
I’m Italian, raised in Luxembourg, and Italy.

Describe your childhood, do you have siblings?
I’m the youngest of three, they are musicians, and also restaurateurs. We share common interests, such as…

  • food
  • music
  • adventure traveling
  • nature
  • studies
  • sports

My childhood was filled with memorable moments revolving around these.

What was the first dish you ever prepared, and how were the results?
When I was seven, I was introduced to the art of making fresh pasta from mygrandmother.  At twelve, my sister taught me how to make a seriously good Matriciana.  If I remember well, I prepared my first dish from scratch at thirteen.  In my opinion, it wasdelicious, but I was alone at that time, so who knows!

What is your favorite dish?
The list is too long.  If I had to generalize, it would be European dishes using seasonal ingredients found growing naturally in the wild: asparagusmushroomstruffle, etc.—nothing that can be found in Bali.

What brought you to Bali?
A holiday with a hidden job opportunity

Have you owned a restaurant prior to opening Zibiru?
Zibiru is my first. A part of my family is in the business, so it’s a familiar environment for me.

Where have you worked before prior to opening our own restaurant?
I had several experiences working in kitchens throughout Europe (France, UnitedKingdomSpainLuxembourgItaly) and New York before I arrived in Bali.  I also spent three years with some great restaurants on the island before opening Zibiru.

If you were catering for a large dinner party, what feeling would you want to attendants to leave with?
I like to highlight the different aspects of my work and demonstrate the simplicity of how our food is prepared.  Premium quality ingredients lend to a more successful dish. What I try to manifest is the health benefits of Mediterranean cuisine—simple, light, well-balanced yet filling.  I also like how Asians cater dinner, a little bit of everythingbut in our case, made “à la minute,”  and would like to propose the same direction.

Do you have any hidden talents, or hobbies?
I am a graduate in mass-media communications, marketing and journalism. I enjoy board sports (except surfing), bricolage and construction (which I’d like to learn more about).  Hidden talents? I hope I’ll discover mine soon!

I understand you like jazz, do you have any favorite jazz musicians?
This list is also really long! It’s more about periods and my current mood.  At the moment, I’m really into Vince Guaraldi, the American musician who’s most recognized for the music he composed for the Charlie Brown animations in the 60’s.

Song: Charlie Brown Christmas Dance
Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
Album: A Boy Named Charlie Brown

Do you play any musical instruments?
No.  I used to play guitar and piano when I was a child, and I seriously regret that I didn’t listen to my family’s encouragements to continue.

What is your life’s ‘mantra’?
Spiritually, it would be the drive to continuously improve myself.   At the end of the day, it’s really my team, those who work with me and support me, that makes my workbeautiful.

Please share any projects you are currently working on.
My team and I are currently in the process of opening Bottega Italiana in Canggu, on Jl Pantai Batu Bolong.  It’s a different concept than the current location next to Zibiru which will help define a new, exciting direction in my work.

Zibiru Restaurant

Zibiru is an Italian restaurant in Seminyak, Bali founded by Luigi Calcagno in 2012. Zibiru offers farm to table regional cuisine in a traditional Balinese setting. Dinner 5pm - 12am. Live jazz: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Live opera: Thursday.