Chef Massi Pauletto Is Novotel Manila Araneta City’s Secret Ingredient
Upon getting called to the stage for the reveal, one can immediately catch that the loudest cheers for Chef Massimiliano Pauletto came from the Novotel culinary team. Applauses and shouts of encouragement echoed the place, which just showed that the hotel’s new executive chef gets along with the team pretty well.
Chef “Massi”, as he is fondly called, is bringing along more than two decades of culinary experience together with his exceptional collaborative philosophy to the kitchen of Novotel Manila Araneta City.
Alongside with food and beverage director Matt Salcedo, Chef Massi will oversee the operations of the hotel’s five dining outlets namely, Food Exchange Manila, Gourmet Bar by Novotel, Sabor Bar de Vinos, Indulge Gelato, and the 6th Pool Bar and Lounge, as well as all events and meetings.
The culinary coach hails from the native town of Varese, Italy. He grew up in a traditional family way of preparing food and festively dining together, which he managed to maintain and bring to the Novotel kitchen.
“You can be the best chef in the world but without a team, you are nobody,” expresses the executive chef.
Sharing his fond childhood memories, he recounts that he used to chase chickens, pick fresh produce from their own vegetable garden, and prepare food together with his brothers and cousins. “Up to this day, my family believes that basically the food needs to be produced by yourself. So, no MSG. No chemical.”
But the person who had strongly influenced him is his late grandmother, Esterina, who took care of him when he was a kid and whom he shared his early memories about food with. Chef Massi shares: “She was a really good cook. I started following her recipes and this carried me through my culinary career.”
From West to East
One of Chef Massi’s great sources of inspiration is esteemed Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, considered as founder of modern Italian cuisine, who guided him in his first apprenticeship at the three Michelin-starred Alberta Hotel after spending five years in a culinary school in Milan.
“I learned a great deal about old French cuisine from him. At that time, they were all doing molecular approach while we were still using the duck press,” Chef Massi recalls.
Novotel’s new executive chef had mastered traditional Italian cuisine having been a chef for the Italian Navy for several years. His culinary journey took him further and learned from other celebrated chefs including the Michelin-starred Chefs Davide Bisetto and Alberico Penati.
He went on and built his culinary portfolio across London and Brussels, until in 2004, he ventured to the lands of the East. Chef Massi began to widen his knowledge and skills on Asian cuisine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for five years. From then on, he realised that there’s definitely a huge cultural difference between the East and the West behind kitchen doors.
Chef Massi admits that he was a bit harsh in the kitchen when he was still in Europe. "I started as a little Gordon Ramsay. [In Asia], they just made me understand that you cannot [always be like that],” says Chef Massi, embracing how the Eastern culture has changed him and afforded him a higher respect for food which is an integral part of the daily life of Asians.
“In Asia, there is food everywhere; in the little street, little corner, and the market. The street food is something that in Europe we lost by years. So, this is one of the beautiful things about Asia,” the chef adds.
His Journey To The Pearl Of The Orient
Chef Massi’s sojourn across Vietnam, India, and Africa has finally led him to the Philippines.
“I’m very happy to start with this hotel in this part of the city. We are not in Makati. We are not in Bonifacio. We are in Quezon City. When its culinary scene explodes in the next years or so, I would have marked up my name here,” he expresses.
Applying his vast and strong culinary background, Chef Massi starts introducing techniques that reinforce the global F&B team of Novotel Manila Araneta City in order to provide better quality palatable dishes and unique dining experience.
“My team is fantastic. Basically, I just push them in the right direction. I always tell them, 'carry on and I will come from the other side and slowly we’ll go together',” he shares.
Asia definitely changed Chef Massi, even General Manager Mike Brown says so. "When he walks in the kitchen, he listens and tells his team that he's going to teach them. His leadership style is 'come on' instead of 'go on'. He leads from the front. He would never ask his staff to do something that he wouldn't do," he says. "Every chef wants to be a great chef. The more they can learn from a great chef like Massi, that's a bonus for them. That's what they got now — a chance to be better than they were yesterday."
Chef Massi Recommends
Starting September 26, a weekly treat of Chef Massi approved specialities are available in every food outlet of Novotel Manila Araneta City.
Experience rich Italian flavours in a bento with some burrata cheese, roasted pork belly cooked in Roman-style porchetta and Sicilian brioche bread with lemon granite.
These and more are available at the Gourmet Bar from September 26 to October 2 between 11AM to 10PM for only Php 690 nett.
A week after, grab your spoons for a whole week of risotto specials that will fill your cravings with creamy traditional Italian rice dish flavoured with luxurious toppings such as prawns, truffle, and apple foie gras. Plus, whet your appetite for your dinner buffet with a favourite Italian antipasto at the bruschetta bar where you can go extra on Italian olive oil choices, fresh tomatoes and other toppings. All these are available during Novotel’s dinner buffet at the Food Exchange Manila from 3 to 9 October for only Php 1688 during Mondays to Fridays and Sundays, and Php 1888 during Seafood Saturdays.
Drown your week-long woes with an indulgent serving of affogato from 10 to 16 October for only Php 160 nett at the Indulge Gelato.
Take time to savour the moment with your friends and colleagues with an assorted cold cuts and cheese platter paired with a special bottle of Fantini Sangiovese wine for Php 1500 nett available at Sabor Bar de Vinos from 17 to 23 October. Prices are inclusive of service charge and applicable government taxes.