Relocating from the hills of Italy to the sois of Bangkok, Michelin-starred Chef Stefano Borra has recently taken over the kitchen at Enoteca
Hidden away on Sukhumvit Soi 27, Enoteca has been serving authentic Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist for the past 12 years. The restaurant has garnered praise for its unique and creative take on old favourites while maintaining the traditional taste, thanks to the quality of the ingredients imported directly from Italy. Its interior could be taken straight from a rustic Tuscan trattoria, including a comprehensive selection of wine bottles lined up on an exposed brick wall, and antipasti and large cuts of ham displayed by the open bar counter. Complete with a verdant garden, it’s a tranquil oasis in the hubbub of Sukhumvit—transporting diners into the atmosphere of Italy. Enoteca’s newest addition to the kitchen, also “imported” from Italy, is Chef Stefano Borra. Although a relative newcomer to Bangkok, he has worked extensively in the kitchens of Europe and ran his own restaurant, Vo, for which he received the highest accolade for a chef—a Michelin star.
Chef Stefano’s passion started at an early age. “My grandmother was always cooking and, despite being young, I developed an interest in all the smells coming from the kitchen and watched her a lot. I preferred playing in the kitchen over playing with toys,” he admits.
After a short detour into law studies, the Turin-born chef started his professional cooking career in 1998 when he left for France to attend the prestigious hospitality and culinary arts management school, Institut Paul Bocuse, presided by the world-famous French chef in Lyon. Throughout his studies he gained vast experience working in high-level restaurants in France, including the hotel Auberge La Fenière in the Provence and at the Parisian restaurants Laperouse and La Pyramide. “These opportunities taught me the differences in French cuisines. From the Mediterranean-style cuisine in the Provence, to the heartier dishes in Paris and the north of France,” he explains.
After his six-year stint in France, Chef Stefano moved back to Italy and, after working at the Le Méridien Hotel and La Pista in Turin, he opened his own restaurant Vo in 2007 for which he was awarded a Michelin-star in 2012 (which he held until 2016). However, due to economic factors, maintaining the restaurant became increasingly difficult. After receiving the offer from Enoteca in Bangkok, Chef Stefano accepted the position and closed his restaurant after nine successful years. Never having been to Bangkok before this seemed like a new challenge. “I was attracted by the opportunity to try something new, move far away and experiment with new products. I only arrived one and a half months ago, so I don’t know Bangkok very well yet, but I already love the people,” he says.
Coincidentally, his arrival to Bangkok was preceded by one of his signature dishes, the golden onion with braised quails, introduced to the Enoteca menu by one of his former staff, also called Stefano, two years prior. The dish features an onion cooked in salt, which serves as a tiny pot and is filled with a delicious quail stew.
The complex dishes on the new menu are a testament to Stefano’s understanding of both basic and complex cooking techniques, which is also represented in the amuse bouche of parmesan and truffle ice cream paired with a deconstructed rigatoni filled with tomato sauce and a shot of gazpacho. His favourite recipes, however, revolve around meat. This appreciation of carnivorous meals can be seen in the preparation of Enoteca’s slow cooked Italian suckling pig. Prepared for three days—including cutting, shaping, and marinating—the scrumptious piece of meat is topped with crispy skin and paired with fresh baby spinach and apple sauce for a medley of textures.
When asked what he cooks at home, the chef admits that he hasn’t got much time to labour in his own kitchen but, he adds with a smile, “I do like a good sandwich.”