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Q&A with chef Mirella Pau of Tutto

Artist impression of Tutto

Tutto is a new Italian restaurant due to open in Brighton this summer from the same stable of premium eateries as The Salt Room, The Coal Shed and Burnt Orange. Nick Mosley talks to head chef Mirella Pau about what to expect.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m Mirella Pau and I am 37 years old. I started cooking at an early age in my family’s restaurant in Sardinia, where I grew up alongside great chefs and mentors.

My passion for pasta drove me to learn about the food in more depth and study it educationally, joining Milan’s Accademia Gualtiero Marchesi in my early twenties and gaining my Masters in “Preparation of fresh pasta”.

I also became a sommelier at the age of 16, and have been growing my knowledge of wine ever since.

My passion and career led me to work in several European countries, including France and Spain, before moving to London in 2013 to work alongside great established chefs.

In 2016 I joined the team at Café Murano by chef Angela Hartnett with executive chef Samantha Williams, where I came to lead the Covent Garden site as Head Chef until the pandemic began. I also led this excellent team in many food and drink events across the UK, including Royal Ascot, Pub in the Park, Wilderness Festival and more.

After Café Murano, I joined the Padella group as Head Chef at their Shoreditch site, leading the team and making the group’s biggest amount of homemade pasta on a daily basis, delivering this to our customers with a consistent level of exceptional quality.

Owner Razak Helalat and head chef Mirella Pau of Tutto (credit James French)

You’re shortly to be heading up the kitchen at the new Tutto restaurant in Marlborough Place, Brighton. How did that opportunity come your way?

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with owner Raz Helalat several years ago. We share a passion for hospitality, good food, good drinks and making sure our customers always have a great time. This connection has brought about the start of a very strong team.

What are the challenges and opportunities posed by the new venue?

The historic building is incredibly beautiful and the investment has really revitalised the period property. The refurbishment process has proved challenging, including the removal of the former bank’s large vault, but the restaurant is in a fantastic location. It’s close to the beach, Brighton Dome and Royal Pavilion, which are all within a few minutes walk.

In a crowded marketplace, what will Tutto offer that other Italian restaurants don’t?

Things  are  not  just  things;  eggs  are  not  just eggs…We will ensure that we only offer products with provenance and authentic flavours that bring the finest Italian experience to the customer.

With my background, I’m sure some Sardinian touches will be present, from homemade Fregola pasta to ‘Saba’, a condiment made from vin cotto or mosto cotto, which translates in English to 'cooked grape juice’. Due to the complexity of Saba’s flavours, it is versatile and wonderful in sauces, marinades and dressings, turning savoury dishes to sweet.

Post-pandemic, why do you think there is a marked rise in interest in Italian food and drink?

How many portions of Spaghetti Bolognese are still eaten across the UK every day? Thousands, if not millions. However, it hasn’t been long since products such as pesto and pancetta first emerged as unique, specialty foods from Italy. Now people are looking for authentic, quality products with traceability and a story behind. Many of these products come from very small regional producers across Italy, Sicily and Sardinia which are made to age old recipes. 

What I believe has invoked this trend for artisan Italian produce, and resulted in the Italian food and drink import market being one of the most consistently bought in the UK, is definitely the popularity of Mediterranean diets and their identified health benefits. The rise in high street chains using more unusual ingredients and supermarkets’ embracing specialist Italian foods really shows this.

The popularity of Italy as a tourist destination has also helped people to experience ‘the Italian way’. I believe this is why people are now looking for the real Italian food. 

Do you think ‘aperitivo’ is a new trend to watch in the UK hospitality industry? What’s going to be your take on aperitivo at Tutto?

Aperitivo is definitely coming into style in this iconic UK city. Personally I will be pleased to see one of the most sociable culinary traditions of Milan – aperitivo – taking place in Brighton.

During the early evening – from about 6pm to 8pm, what one might call ‘cocktail hour’ – most bars in Milan serve complimentary food with drinks. Yet at Tutto, there will be an educational element to it too because as a chef and food lover, myself and the team will be experts in pairing the produce of Italy with our aperitivo drinks. We will offer a great selection of Italian wines as well as a collection of aperitivo cocktails that use famous Italian spirits, including Campari, Antica Formula and Aperol.

My favourite aperitivo will always be any variation of Negroni! 

Tutto opens this summer at 20-22 Marlborough Place, Brighton BN1 1UB •


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