The Cooks’ Alliance Recipe: The gnocchi of Giovanni Melis

I come from a Sardinian farming family. I love nature and all work associated with it, but cooking has always been my real passion.

Pumpkin gnocchi recipeAs a kid, when I used to see my grandparents bringing us meat and homemade cheese and charcuterie, I was happy to watch them cooking for hours… and, of course, even happier to eat what they made. Memories of the time I spent with them give me the inspiration to develop my recipes and encourage me to create new ones, while always respecting my family’s traditions.

I have travelled all over the world and worked with chefs from everywhere from America to Thailand. The world, and all the thrilling experiences it has given me – they too are a source of inspiration. But my family still holds pride of place. Let’s not forget love either. Things should be done with love.

I believe that a great deal in my way of cooking comes not only from my studies but also from the discipline and passion passed on to me by my family. “Do things and do them well or do them again until they’re exactly as you want them to be” – that’s what my grandfather used to tell me and this has been my winning formula in life.

Today my cooking is all flair and creativity, natural and wholesome, healthy and diverse.

I serve it in three restaurants in Zurich: “Pic Chic”, the most modern and fashionable; “La Pinseria” on the Hardplatz, specialised in typical Roman pinsa; and a new gourmet restaurant that works only with organic and Slow Food Presidium produce.

I love meeting the people who come to my restaurants. I take pleasure in chatting with my guests and surprising them with my delicacies. And I enjoy the company of my collaborators as much as that of my guests.

No one can do anything on their own, no one’s phenomenal. It takes a team to perform a miracle. Everyone has their strong points. If everyone does what their bit, fantastic results will soon ensue. What I mean is that a restaurant is based not on a single cook but on a whole team. To achieve success, it’s necessary to collaborate. I’m a chef, of course, but in my restaurants we all work together in harmony.

Which is where the Cooks’ Alliance, of which I’ve been a member for four years, comes in. It’s a restaurant at the nth power. A unique opportunity to share, get to know and above all promote food products and the work of everyone involved, producers included.  

I’ve always chosen high-quality ingredients. Fresh aromatic herbs, for example. Dried aromatic herbs have no place in the kitchen. When I buy meat, I always make sure the animals have been treated as they should.

Here Giovanni presents us his recipe for pumpkin gnocchi, a delicious first course and a variation on the more traditional potato gnocchi.

Pumpkin gnocchi recipe

  • 250 gm pumpkin🎃
  • 100 gm all-purpose flour
  • 20 gm salt
  • 10 gm pepper
  • 80 gm Sbrinz (Slow Food Presidia)
  • 100 gm ewe’s ricotta
  • Sardinian late-harvest pink tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Sugar
  • Fennel seeds, to taste

For gnocchi

Boil pumpkin. For softer, firmer dough, bake pumpkin to dry out flesh. When still warm, crush flesh and add Sbrinz, ewe’s ricotta, flour, salt and pepper. Mix dough, cut into gnocchi shapes and leave to rest in the fridge for a few hours.

Cook in boiling water for a few minutes.

For sauce

Dehydrate tomatoes in the oven at 110°C. Gently fry onion until golden, add sugar and fennel seeds and combine with the tomatoes.

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