Pizza in a cone

Chef Rossano Boscolo with the cone pizza, his invention -- Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Chef Rossano Boscolo with the cone pizza, his invention -- Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar  

A Eureka moment is what drove celebrity Italian chef Rossano Boscolo to create the cone pizza – one that retains the great Italian tradition, yet is handy for people with no time to eat

In a nation that is pretty much obsessed with pizza, here’s a pizza put inside a cone. No? Can’t imagine? Not happening? I thought so too, till I ate it. And spoke to the man who decided to make this street food more user friendly!

Yes, in Italy, says chef Rossano Boscolo, pizza is street food, to be bought from a counter by the slice, folded (so that you don’t get your fingers messed with the toppings), and eaten on the go. A seasoned pastry chef and owner of the Boscolo Hotels, one of the largest in Italy, and a second-generation chef, he talks of how his now world-renowned Kono Pizza was born out of a Eureka moment. “In my profession I have been asked several times to create new food concepts, and one that can summarise all Italian food traditions. When you think of Italian food, what do you think of?” he looks expectantly. With two satisfactory answers, he continues “I put down three – pizza, pasta and gelato. And while I was writing it down, I accidentally drew a cone below they pizza instead of the gelato. And there, I thought, why not a pizza in a cone?!” While he sounds all excited and full of pizzazz, I wait for his interpreter to complete her sentences.

And here we are with our image of Italians loving their food, sitting over a leisurely meal, and this man says they eat pizza on the go! “Both perceptions are correct. That’s 50 per cent of the people. But pizza has become a complete meal in itself for economical reasons; it costs less than a full meal and so there are so many puizzerias in Italy. Pizza was never dinner.”

And so it came to be that his invention was a slice of pizza, folded into a cone, with the cheese and toppings filled in it. “This is one of the few foods you can eat with only one hand; you even have to hold a sandwich with two! The idea was to create a sealed cone where the filling doesn’t drop out.” Of course the classicists and purists hit out at him for his crazy innovation. But in his defence, he says, all he said was “It wasn’t my intention to change tradition. The revolution only lay in how to eat. Cuisine always evolves. And evolution without tradition doesn’t exist. I’m quite a traditionalist myself!” Today Kono Pizza has 150 stores in 22 countries and India gets its first in Bengaluru, in Banashankari. They will serve 15 varieties of savoury pizzas and four of dessert Konos. They will have 30 outlets all over the country in the next two years, says Naveen B, Chief Operating Officer, Bluecamel India Foods Pvt Ltd, who have taken up the franchise.

The most important part of food is the contact you have with it, he points out, where food is eaten with the hand, like in India, Arabic countries and Lebanon. “It’s the best part of food – that contact. I like to hold and eat my T-bone and bite into it!” he laughs. Boscolo began working in his family restaurant in Venice when he was just about done with school. Their family built the first hotel in Venice in 1978 and ever since they have grown into the largest luxury hotel chain in the country.

The concept of Kono Pizza was first launched at an international exhibition in Milan in 2004, and very quickly copies popped up the world over, including in India. “We have had legal issues and have filed international lawsuits. Many of the duplicates have been forced to shut down. We hold a patent for the cone pizza as well as the special oven in which it is baked,” he says, not taking names but telling stories of how he had to come to New Delhi even to have one rip-off shut down.

He makes sure that the basic ingredients – the mozzarella and tomato sauce comes from Italy to maintain a standard across the world. But some adaptations to local tastes are inevitable. In India they have added a masala sauce, and the (oh no! not again!) chicken and paneer tikka versions! “There will also be more onion and garlic and chilli than in Europe.” Biting into the veggie delight, you will be sure to be pleased that there is more topping than the thick doughy base, lots of stringy mozzarella, the cone retains its crunch, and the pizza stays hot till the last bite, thanks to the way the heating is designed. Also one cone averages about 288 calories, as against its equivalent -- 2.5 slices of a normal pizza which is about 750 calories, they claim. The Kono gets made in three minutes and 20 seconds --- the same time taken for a wood-fired pizza to get done.

World over, the trend in food is heading towards herbs and spices, he observes. In Europe their usage has grown in the last 10 years to include a repertoire of cumin, cardamom and turmeric (which he calls curcumina). And the reason he attributes for it might really defy logic for us Indians: “Because by using spices you can use less salt in cooking.” While I let that sink in, he continues: “If you use spices well, you can have healthy food. I eat curcumina daily – I create a pasta with it, mixing it with dried tomatoes, black olives, chilli, extra virgin olive oil…” And this is the reason, he believes, Indians eat a lot of garlic – to disinfect their intestines – and use spices to preserve food. He too swears by garlic; he takes two pills of it everyday to keep his intestines healthy. “I can’t eat raw garlic because it does not appeal to the ladies,” he declares with a laugh.

Exploring Bengaluru

Rossano Boscolo has been to Rajasthan befor on a holiday. But this is his first time in Bengaluru. He asked his team where he can find local food and was promptly taken to VV Puram’s thindi beedi where he feasted on dosa-chutney, holige, pani puri, fruits like jackfruit and taati nungu and thoroughly enjoyed a root called “bhoochakra gadde” sliced thin and served with a topping of lime! “I will copy some of these in Italy,” he jokes. He also visited Lal Bagh and was enamoured by the 69 varieties of mangoes he got to see. “I only knew about four or five types till now!” he muses.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 5:57:09 PM |

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