Portrait of the chef
Fabio, who are you?
I was born in the Puglia region in Corato, Italy. It was my family who instilled in me the love of cooking and it soon became a passion. Gastronomy is what has always punctuated our holidays and trips. Travelling for miles to eat in a good restaurant has never frightened us. I got used to going fishing and hunting with my father and then to helping my grandfather in the kitchen of our country house not far from Castel del Monte, an Italian castle dating back to the XIIIᵉ century and classified as a historical monument.
At the age of 13 I decided that I wanted to be a great cook. So, I joined a hotel school in Roccaraso in Abruzzo. After studying there for 5 years, I obtained my BAC (tehnological baccalaureate) and then my BTS (Higher national diploma) in Hotel and Restaurant Management. I started working in restaurants and trattoria in Abruzzo and then in Emilia (region of Italy) in Bologna and Ferrara. In 2005, my career took an important turning point as I was 21 years old when I was hired as a pastry chef in Tuscany at the Trattoria Hotel l'Andana, Alain Ducasse's inn.
It was while working there that I met the woman who would become my partner, Laura, and my passion for Mediterranean gastronomic cuisine was born. My adventure then continued in Monaco, Hôtel de Paris. A few years later, I had the honour of being proposed by Alain Ducasse himself to continue my training in the capital: in Paris. There, I acquired the secrets of great French cuisine and the technical aspects of Parisian palaces. In 2010, I decided to open my own restaurant with my partner: theVino e Cucina. It was such a success that I decided to open a cheese dairy in 2015. I wanted to take up the challenge of making organic and local Mozzarella Burrata myself.
The adventure was exciting but the call of cooking was too strong. That's when I met the RAGNI family, the rest is still to be written...
A strong character, haven't you?
I define myself as a rigorous and persevering person, I know what I want. But above all I am a generous, creative and passionate person.
How do you define your cooking: bistronomy with a contemporary Mediterranean influence? Or not necessarily?
I wouldn't be able to give a name to my cooking style. I love the product and I make sure I get the best out of it. Obviously, there is a strong Mediterranean influence in my cuisine with a technique that comes from the great French gastronomy.
What influences your cooking?
My cooking has a very Mediterranean influence. Alain Ducasse is obviously a chef who inspires me.
Gilles Epié (the stars' chef in Los Angeles) with whom I had the chance to take part in several TV shows, notably Les Escapades de Petitrenaud, taught me how to integrate Asia into my dishes, how to use ingredients from Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. His great notoriety with the press and Parisian showbiz was a great help to me.
You look young but you already have more than 15 years of experience, tell us about your career path in a few key dates,
October 2015 - Present: Founder-manager of a local organic artisanal cheese dairy, Casa della Burrata
October 2010 - May 2017: Owner, manager and chef Vino e Cucina
February 2007 - July 2009 : Sous chef Citrus Etoile
January 2007 - April 2007: Pastry chef Spoon Food and Wine, Alain Ducasse
February 2006 - September 2006: Pastry commis Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo
April 2005 - October 2005: Pastry commis L'Andana srl Alain Ducasse 1* Michelin guide
January 2005 - April 2005: Sous chef Hostaria Savonarola
2002: Higher national diploma Ecole Hôtelière E. de Panlis dal 1960
2000: Technological baccalaureat in hotel and catering technology E. de Panlis dal Hotel
Why did you choose to be part of the MOOD adventure?
My encounter with the RAGNI family was very positive, they have complete confidence in me and I like their project very much. I love the challenge of opening a restaurant: it's more difficult, but also more rewarding. I can do here what I've always wanted to do in my restaurant (top location, great cooking team and beautiful work tools).
What are your leanings in cooking?
A part of the former team of my restaurant Vino e Cucina will be part of MOOD. Regarding the choice of suppliers, I met new local ones thanks to my experience in my second company Casa della Burrata, so I can take advantage of this today: local market gardeners and fishmongers for fish and shellfish …
Your MOOD card:
Our aim is to make this place the meeting point for Bistronomy lovers on the port of Saint-Laurent.
- Must-try future stars dishes:
The Fisherman's Pot (depending on arrivals), the famous piglet in Porchetta and Macaroni gratin with foie gras (star dish of Vino e Cucina), the Ceviche (by Gilles Epié) cooking and juices (by Ducasse).
- Number of starters, main courses:
Approximately 10 starters and 10 main courses, adding the slate and dishes to share. The menu changes every month. The slate varies every day according to my desires and the arrivals.
- Other points to highlight? Atmosphere? Antipasti ? ...
We have a small lounge area at your disposal, with the possibility of enjoying cocktails and sharing antipasti.
JI prefer cooking local, in the true sense of the word, I favour organic or sustainable agriculture products, respectful of the environment and animal welfare, especially when I use cereals and olive oil, ingredients which also have an important place in my cuisine. By the way, I also make sure to buy farmed fish, only from local or French farms.
Thank you Fabio, we look forward to discovering your cooking!
Chef Fabio MERRA And his team Are happy to welcome you to MOOD 🥂
+33 4 93 14 23 09
136 Quai la Pérouse
Port Saint Laurent du Var
06700 - Saint Laurent du Var