Award-winning Camps Bay chef Giorgio Nava, says he aims to bring the beauty of Italy to the city with his food.
“There are few Italian restaurants in the city which are owned and run by Italians. Italian cuisine is often associated with pizza, pasta and the cliche look at restaurants – the close family business, the mother in the kitchen, the checkered tablecloths and the string of garlic with tins of tomato, but there is so much more to Italian cuisine.”
Mr Nava is the owner of 95 Keerom, as well as 95 Parks in Constantia, 95 Morgenster in Somerset West and Carne SA.
He grew up in Milan, Italy, in a family who had a lot of passion for food and culture.
He showed interest in being a restaurateur at a young age, and spent a lot of time at restaurants and kitchens, and became friendly with many chefs in his hometown, before doing an apprenticeship under one of the best chefs in Italy.
“Everyone will have seen their mothers cook from a young age, and the taste that reminds them of home will follow them wherever they go. But to be the best, you have to learn from the best, and that’s what I did.”
During his apprenticeship, Mr Nava completed his culinary schooling, and eventually opened a restaurant in Italy.
During a visit to Cape Town, he fell in love with the city and decided to relocate in 1999. He now lives in Camps Bay. He opened 95 Keerom in 2003 and five years later the original branch of Carne opened across the road in the CBD.
In the middle of 2014, Mr Nava opened his second branch of Carne in Kloof Street and in November 2014, a third branch opened in Constantia.
He has since won many awards, including the title of Certified Master Chef of Italian Cuisine
in 2011, World Pasta Championship in 2013, and 95 Keerom was runner-up in the Africa and Middle East category in the International Birra Moretti Best Authentic Italian Restaurant Awards in 2011.
Asked what made his food different from other restaurants, Mr Nava said: “The quality of my food is without compromise, and also, the volume on the plate is satisfying. I want my customers to
leave with the full Italian experience.”
He said Italy is not only famous for its pizza and pasta, but for all its food.
“The new way of cooking is a Mediterranean diet, with less food and fresher ingredients. A modern Italian meal is fresh, green and light, made with vegetables, fish or meat and very little sauce.”
He said with the city being so fast-paced, people often don’t have the time to sit in restaurants for hours. He has now introduced gourmet pizzas to the menu at 95 Keerom.
“Pizza was always considered poor with cheap ingredients, and there is a movement towards high-end pizzas, and there is
huge competition for the best pizzas.”
He said pizzerias had also moved away from the fast-food nature of pizzas and have now moved to a more sit-down concept, pairing pizzas with champagne and wine.
With all Mr Nava’s fancy creations of Mr Nava over the years, his favourite meal is a simple risotto.
“It reminds me of home – it is a comfort food that is full of memories, and you can add many flavours to it.”
Mr Nava said he enjoyed working in the city centre because he gets to connect with the locals, as well as international guests.