Ten years ago the rugby player Gabriele Rubini moved to New Zealand to play for a team based in Wellington and there, to support himself, he began working in a restaurant developing a passion for cooking.
Today, that boy who left from Rome is one of the most loved TV characters: Chef Rubio, undisputed king of «Unti e bisunti», the TV show that has converted many people among the food lovers, but also among those who, though they eat lightly, don’t turn their nose up at the little alleys where street food reigns, at the taverns or at the most hidden and truthful kitchens, which have been unveiled during the three series of the program. The TV show has become cult also because it is characterized by regular people, made of meetings on the road and has a way of reminding the world how nice it is to eat traditional foods, not worrying if they are a little bit greasy…. By the way, right at the end of the third series, among other things Gabriele told us: «No, I don’t think there will be a new season of Greasy and greasier».
by Cristina Crisci
Your first time in a kitchen was more or less ten years ago: how did it go?
«Beautiful and full of enthusiasm: I started as a dish washer in a small place in the Roman Castles, then I went to New Zealand and I began cooking. It was the nicest period because you live everything with greater enthusiasm».
Chef, then you travelled the world hunting for street food: what did you discover in Italy?
«Many places and many situations that are, sadly, disappearing and I’ve tried to be a sounding board for them, as if I was the protector of street food, of good cooking and of regional identity. Nevertheless I don’t think my intervention is enough, it seems to me that at social and political level we’re going astray. I would like to improve this situation and move consciences to save unique products that we have in all areas of Italy».
Your best travelling companion?
«Myself. I don’t have any travel mates except for myself, the important thing is to keep your head on your shoulders while travelling and treasure everything that you meet».
The most extreme thing you’ve eaten? The most delicious and the worse one?
«The most extreme… it depends on your point of view. Anyway rotten tofu in China was really hard to take both as smell and consistency but it was interesting anyway. Bad food doesn’t exist, you can only eat it by mistake in those restaurants where there’s no passion, but only desire to do business».
Did you like “Greasy and greasier” this year?
«I liked it very much because I know how much it cost in terms of fatigue, sweat, hours of sleepiness and many emotions. Even if the audience would have not liked it, while instead it did, I would have been satisfied for the job done».
Future working projects?
«There are many things going on, unfortunately I will have to cut off something, I’m not triune yet … and the energies have to be dosed well in order to do a quality job. I have to talk with my management about what direction to take for 2016».
If you were called as a guest at Masterchef, would you go?
«I don’t watch much TV, I prefer going to the movies».
Chef Rubio and women…
«I have a really good connection with women. I try to get close to people who would have the sensitivity to understand the kind of face and interests I have. I relate with these kind of people with serenity».
TV. Work, social life, cooking: what are you lacking?
You are also really socially active, with Action Aid and you’re attending a course to learn sign language…(LIS)
«I consider it a normal thing and if I didn’t do it I would feel guilty: I comes spontaneous to me and I’m surprised that someone could make a magazine newspaper title out of it because it means that many people don’t make any effort under this point of view».
Umbrian products: porchetta or truffle?
«Both of them».
An umbrian tipical dish you really like…
«I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the ways of using cereals, by a cornmeal mush served with wild peas, by the “roveglie” from Castelluccio in Norcia, but also by snails, trouts, porchetta and pigeon».
Another great passion of yours is rugby with a new project, what is it all about?
«It’s a project that comes from my brother (Giulio Rubini, editor’s note) and three other former team mates who founded the first Italian club of rugby at 7, “Rome 7’s Hills”. It’s a sports group born at a low level, established by the players for the players with the ambition to update the Italian rugby scenario, which has remained a little bit behind compared to other countries. The young players challenge themselves with values such as passion and meritocracy».
When you were a child what job did you dream of chef Rubio?
«I wanted to become an ocean biologist – oceanographer».
The World Health Organization has launched a heavy alarm signal in the past weeks about consumption of meat and its derivatives. What do you think about it?
«Not only I, we’ve all questioned ourselves about those almost terroristic statements of the Organization which have been discredited 3 days later with a guide. I’ve got nothing else to add, I don’t think this kind of scaremongering does good to people».