Cristina Bowerman

Following stints as a lawyer and graphic designer, the Italian Glass Hostaria chef has gone on to become Rome’s only female to hold a Michelin star. She talks to Blossom Green about next steps

How do you define your cooking style?

I’m the daughter of many countries, so my cuisine is what I call ‘contaminated’. I grew up in Puglia, studied languages in the UK and lived in the US – San Francisco and Austin – before returning to Rome. I always try to bring something back from my travels to inject into my food.

You’ve just opened a new restaurant at Club Marvy in Izmir. What’s the ethos?

I’ve found a lot of affinities with my own culture in Turkey, especially in the way the locals cook. The menu at Buono.Italiano is Italian cuisine with Turkish influence. Some Turkish ingredients, like sumac – which is perfect with lamb – I was already familiar with as Puglia, with all its harbours, has lots of Middle Eastern influences. We both adore fresh fish, too. I’m using plenty of regional produce like pomegranate molasses, which I love, pistachios, marmalade and olive oil. I don’t want guests to be able to pinpoint where something is from; it must be an organic whole.

Where are you travelling to next?

I am going to Thailand, to Bangkok and Phuket. I’ll be dining at Jay Fai and Sühring, for sure. And Gaggan, too, before Anand relocates to Japan – I’ve been twice and love it. Then I’ll be cooking with one of Thailand’s best chefs, Chef Tam [Chudaree Debhakam], at her restaurant.

You studied culinary arts in Austin, Texas – any restaurants you always return to when you visit?

The restaurant that will forever be in my heart is Uchi. I go there once or twice a week when I’m in the city. Tyson Cole was the first to win a James Beard Award for his Japanese-American cuisine. I really rate Wink, too.

What do you think of the British food scene?

Very rich. It’s got so much potential, and a lot of trendsetting chefs. Italians always think Italian tradition is best – it drives me insane. I did a benefit dinner in London recently with Sat Bains and was at Obsession at Northcote earlier this year. As you travel, you realise that wherever you go there’s something to admire; something to stamp on your palate and rewrite and reinterpret in your own country.

What ingredients are you currently cooking with?

Right now, vegetables are at their very best and I’m enjoying cooking with fish. I’m from the south, so mozzarella and burrata are always found in my kitchen. I especially like the bite of tiny gnudini-like bocconcini.

Where do you like to eat in Rome?

La Ciambella is just great. It’s run by a female chef-sommelier couple. The food is traditional with a bit of a twist. The artichoke dish is really excellent and they have a major, major wine cellar with lots of Italian wines. I love Arianna Occhipinti’s wines from Sicily but try not to limit myself.

How about for a cocktail?

Patrick Pistolesi’s Drink Kong. Not only is it beautiful but it’s really hip, with lots of whiskies on offer.

And for coffee the morning after?

Panella, which isn’t too far from my restaurant. It’s a good breakfast spot with great coffee.

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