Hailed as the King of White Truffles, the Bergamo native has brought his style of refined Tuscan cooking from Northern Italy to Asia via Hollywood.
Founder of the 3 Michelin-starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA, Umberto Bombana has travelled the world after apprenticing under Ezio Santin at Antica Osteria del Ponte, now a Michelin starred restaurant outside Milan. In 1983, he joined the famous Rex Il Ristorante, a regular venue for post-Oscar parties in Los Angeles. Stints in the kitchen with top chefs such as Gianfranco Vissani, Michel Rostang and Pinuccio Alia also added to his diverse culinary visions.
Bombana arrived in Hong Kong in 1993 to open the famed Toscana at the Ritz Carlton. For 15 years he delighted diners with his flair and passion for refined Tuscan cooking. However, it was in 2010 that Bombana undertook his most personal and distinctive project to date – 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA – a culmination of his experiences and philosophy.
Inspirations From The Wild
Having lived in three continents, Bombana is pleased to be in a happening place that is Hong Kong. “Now that I’m still very active in my career, Hong Kong with its energy is the best place to be,” he said. “But then it is also a place of tranquility. I live in Sai Kung with three beaches nearby and I enjoy hiking in the country parks. We are a city of 7 million people but it’s amazing that I can hike alone for hours without seeing anyone.”
A balance between a vibrant city life and closeness to nature would be Bombana’s ideal of home. The family-centred chef believes a quality life means “being able to express yourself”, and his time spent in nature allows him to pursue his goals. “We want the restaurant to last for many years so it’s important to keep the food young. Classic dishes are always going to be there but we want to express them in our own way, using new recipes.” Going back to nature is his way to find inspirations.
Being around his family makes Bombana most relaxed and comfortable, and he extends this philosophy to his staff. “Work life balance is important and you need to give people space to have time for themselves.”
For Bombana, cooking is to offer pleasure for the palate, the eyes and nose. “My passion is to please the guests. So it just makes me very happy to see people enjoy my cooking, whether they’re my two kids or customers.”
Extracted from Squarefoot – Luxe Indulgence Magazine 2014
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