Oakman Chefs Explore Naples
Since the company began, Oakman Inns has placed a huge importance on developing the knowledge and skills of its teams. Initiatives such as the introduction of Oakmanology, the company’s online craft training tool, and training and visits with suppliers, are just a few examples of a people investment programme that has received widespread praise and recognition.
Oakman Inns are known for their fresh, flavoursome Mediterranean-inspired menu, which focuses on using carefully selected ingredients. At the heart of this menu lies the hand-crafted pizzas baked in traditional wood-burning ovens. Last week, Oakman Inns sent their head chefs, led by Chef Director Ross Pike, to Naples to discover for themselves, the secrets of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza.
Day one of the trip was a chance for the chefs to immerse themselves in the local food and flavours the city has to offer. Following a walk around Porta Nolana Market, Naples best seafood market, the first stop was L’Antica Pizzeria da Michelle, an establishment renowned by locals for the quality of its two pizzas: the margherita and marinara. Such is the flavour that a 30 foot queue is a frequent occurrence. From here the team went on to visit Scaturchio Pasticeria to sample Sfogiatelle, a sweet puff pastry dessert filled with ricotta, before heading to Anitca Pizzeria Port’Alba, which claims to be where the first ever pizza was served.
The next day, the chefs were taken by Oakman’s Italian supplier Salvo 1968 Ltd to visit Latteria Sorrentina, owned by the Amodio family and set on the edge of Vesuvius National Park. The Laterria supplies Oakman Inns with Fior Di Latte Mozzarella, a speciality pizza cheese, and Giovanni Amodio, the fifth generation of Amodios to be making mozzarella, took the chefs on a tour of the family’s factory. This was an opportunity for the chefs to see the various stages of the production process and hear for themselves what goes into making the mozzarella they use every day in their kitchens. They also had the opportunity to sample some amazingly fresh cheese from the production line as well as discover some of the other cheeses the Amodio family produce alongside the Fior Di Latte used at Oakman Inns.
In the afternoon the team went on to Striano on the outskirts of Naples to see the San Marzano DOP tomato production. These tomatoes are outstanding, and their DOP (denominazione origine protetta) tag is a sign of just how prized they are by the Italians. Here the team saw the whole production line and how the tomatoes go from field to tin in ten minutes. It is thought that the first seed of this tomato came to Campania in 1770 as a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples, and that it was planted in the area of San Marzano sul Sarno. Only the San Marzano tomatoes grown in the Sarnese Nocerino area are considered the best because they are grown within the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius in extraordinarily fertile soil, with the benefit of the nearby River Sarno for irrigation.
An intense 72 hours, but one that was invaluable for the chefs in their experiences and discoveries of the best Naples had to offer.