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Encounter with Chef Alessandro Lampis, when fusion flavours sublimate the pizza

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For Italian Chef Alessandro Lampis, the Earth is not round. It looks like a pizza made of all sorts of ingredients from across the world that sublimate the Neapolitan origins of this wafer made from bread dough. The artisan cooks of Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber witnessed this metaphor during a training that Chef Lampis led from November 7-11. The aim of the training was to “promote quality pizza.”

Chef Alessandro Lampis has worked in a dozen countries. He settled in Reunion Island eight years ago - his “second home”, where he embarked on an adventure – gourmet pizza as he calls it, with his friend and pizzaiolo Thierry Gourreau. Their restaurant chain Mam’Zelle Pizza is in the south of the island, in Tampon, Trois Mares, Bras de Ponteau and Saint-Joseph. Soon, Mam’Zelle Pizza will open in La Saline-les-Bains with the same objective: turn the most emblematic Italian dish into an island dish by using an assortment of ingredients.

Originally from Turin, Alessandra Lampis has visited Mauritius before, a “little heaven” synonymous to a “dream and dream holidays for many people.” He was delighted to discover the “amazing setting” of Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber and an enthusiastic team of chefs, all “very much qualified”, “who can spread a dough” and who have a certain “knowledge of the art of composition.” “The training that Thierry Goureau and I are providing aims to bring our expertise, our knowledge of the pizza, flours and of course the cooking techniques to the team so that they can in turn create better products.”
 


 

Thierry Gourreau, “the flour expert” taught the theory component, “the bases on which they [the chefs] should build their knowledge for a better product.” He masters everything from the yeast fermentation to the chemical reactions that accompany the composition. If Alessandro Lampis “got closer to the pizza,” he owes it to Thierry Gourreau, who was crowned World Champion at the Fine Good Australia Exhibit, which was held in Melbourne from September 12-16, 2016.  The Italian Chef was not born into a family of cooks but “allowed nature work its magic” and “followed his desires.” This is how it all started in the kitchens of Turin alongside well-known chefs.

The two accomplices got the brilliant idea of exploring the concept of the pizza and create original ones. It all sprang from an observation: “Usually in the pizzeria, there is only one oven to bake. So, all the ingredients are directly cooked, placed on the pizza and then baked in the oven. We knew that each product required specific consideration. Some ingredients do not necessarily need a thermal shock in a high-temperature furnace.” So, they decided to review the method. A chef stands by the pizzaiolo and shares his knowledge on the cooking techniques, how to work the different ingredients, and other, usually high-quality, raw materials. They bring the expertise of the chef into the world of pizza.

 

Vice World Champion

 

This tandem work and creative collaboration have been commended and rewarded. Last year, Alessandro Lampis and the pizzaiolo Nicolas Sadehe were crowned champions of France of Pizza A Due. Chef Lampis then won the title of vice world champion this time with Thierry Gourreau with their creation “La Compagnie de la Réunion: Voyage de Saint-Pierre.” “It’s an amazing adventure, we had two competitions lined up one after the other in one week, the one in Paris and that of Parma. It is the most well-known pizza championship in the world with over 800 participants from 47 countries. You get to meet the world’s pizza stars.”

The pizza that Alessandro Lampis, Nicolas Sadehe and Thierry Gourreau created mirrored a sailing boat on the sea route to India and offered a spicy journey with Reunion Island as starting point. “We imagined this sailing boat loaded with spices stopping at various ports and bartering its products against other local ones. We imagined this journey until Paris. The idea was to arrive in Paris with a complete basket, ingredients with which we could make another pizza: lots of seafood, fish, a tint of Asian influence as is often the case in Mauritius and Reunion Island. And of course, a small Italian touch because I am Italian, and will always be one.” The Pizza a Due highlights the tandem work of a kitchen chef and a pizzaiolo chef. While the kitchen chef emphasizes the value of the ingredients and cooking techniques, the pizzaiolo chef invests his efforts and expertise into making the best dough to support the Chef’s recipe. The pizza metamorphoses into a gourmet pizza thanks to valued ingredients and embraces the world of classic gastronomy.

His travels and collaboration with different teams in over a dozen countries allowed Alessandro Lampis to enrich his “culture as a chef.” The “different cultures” that he came across with, the “different visions” that he encountered, the “different raw materials” that he used made him an ambassador of fusion cuisine. For Chef Lampis, if the origins of the pizza are Neapolitan, it still needs to evolve. It must remain popular and adapt itself to ingredients that are so valuable in various regions. “It is an Italian dish but known worldwide. Regardless of where you go, you will find a pizza and each country has crafted its own style and own way of presenting it. The pizza is Italian and always will be. It is the most heavily consumed dish in the world. There are all sorts of pizzas. It’s great that anyone can share his/her own experience on the different dough styles and bring out its worth.”

Alessandro Lampis adds that, “The fusion pizza, is our brand, it’s what differentiates us from others. We created this style, fusion, the key is, fusion. To take the most emblematic Italian dish and transform it into an island dish. The influence of spices, the flavouring of the dough using various spices to enhance our ingredients, it’s definitely an added-value.”

“Pizzaiolo is a real job, a noble job,” affirms the Italian Chef. This connotes an in-depth knowledge of the subject. That’s what Chef Lampis wish the chefs of Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber so that they in turn, and the clients, can relish this “delicate and light pizza” that is “part of his DNA.”

Sidenote

Thierry Gourreau, an accomplished pizzaiolo

 

Thierry Gourreau, the famous pizzaiolo, is the business partner of Alessandro Lampis. From La Montagne, today, he lives in the south of Reunion Island with his wife Valérie with whom he won the title of world champion of classic pizza in Melbourne during the Fine Good Australia Exhibit held from September 12-15, 2016.

The name of Thierry Gourreau directly links to Mam’Zelle Pizza that he created in 2007 in Bras de Ponteau.

Holder of a certificate in electrical engineering, he worked for 15 years on electric cables and served as Agency Manager in the south for five years. After working two different jobs for eight years, in September 2015, he decided to dedicate himself to the pizza. In addition to his pizzerias, Gourreau has opened a pizzaiolo school. Affiliated to the Association Pizzerias Française (APF), his school offers training programs for beginners, experts and acrobats.