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May 28, 2009 02:27 AM

Decapo's New Chef in Edmonton...

Anybody try his food yet?

From the Edmonton Journal:

From Venice and Paris to .... Garneau?

There is not enough of the Venetian in our everyday lives. Not enough gondolas, nor men in tight-fitting multi-coloured hose. Not enough tiny cups of coffee sipped in wide-open squares fluttering with pigeons. Not nearly enough saltwater lagoons.

That’s why tiramisu is so very, very important. The very word, in Venetian, means pick-me-up. And that’s how diners who enjoy a tiramisu off the new dessert menu at Da Capo will feel. Just plain old lifted up, up, up where we belong.

The inventor of Da Capo’s tiramisu is the south-side cafe’s new chef, Maxime De Luca, who arrived a couple of months back. From France, no less. De Luca, who has relatives in Edmonton, and his girlfriend Anais Luce-Barbier, now helping to manage Da Capo, decided to come to our western outpost for an adventure.

Antonio Bilotta, the owner of Da Capo, heard about the prospect of a young and talented French chef in need of employment. The result is the dessert case at Da Capo, which has reached new heights of artistry.

De Luca, 23, who has four years of chef school under his belt, has worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, France and Scotland.

“For the customer, I’d like to create pleasure and forget their jobs, take your time, take your pleasure, take a break. I’d like to teach people to forget fast food,” he says. “Try another way, a new product, a new combination. Forget your usual life. … Antonio says it’s a European experience without the plane ticket.”

De Luca’s desserts are like tiny sculptures. The panna cotta was designed to suggest an avalanche, with bits of pistachio tumbling down the tilted surface. A trail of coulis on one of creations is no accident; usually, it points the eye to a particular feature.

The new dessert menu also includes a chocolate mousse cake constructed in delicate layers, starting with a chocolate crumble and ending with a gleaming blanket De Luca calls a “chocolate mirror.”

There is also a sweet that he has difficulty putting a name to: Shaped and delicately coloured like a peach, right down to the green leaf at the top, it is made from a cookie-like substance that opens to reveal a creamy centre. There is also a nut-studded cannoli stuffed with ricotta, apricot and Callebaut chocolate.

For De Luca, creating food can take him far, far away. Sometimes, when he’s cooking, he’ll have a flashback to the kitchen of his mother, or his grandmother, both wonderful cooks. He refers to cooking as a “vocation.”

“Maybe I was born with that,” he says. “When I was young, I say to my mother ‘I want to be a cook,’ and she say, ‘No problem,’ but later, I say it again and again.”

He aims for maitrise in cooking, which translates as “perfect command” of his craft, combining patience with rigour, quality and excellence.

“When you come into Da Capo, don’t forget you are not in Edmonton, you are in another dimension,” he tells visitors.

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  1. Da Capo's great. I've been a few times and it's always good. I like the coffee at Leva better so I usually go there but looks like I'll have to try Da Capo again.

    1. I was there recently and found the pizza to be not-so-great - lacking in all toppings, crust was okay. BUT the gelato is fantastic. Really, really good. Maybe the best in the city. I'm probably just going to go for that from now on and skip the mains.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ihatepickyeaters

        Have you tried the gelato at Leva. I like it better than dacapo. Especially the pistachio.

      2. Does anybody know their current hours of operation? I love this place but stopped going due to several hours changes that lead to me never knowing if they'd be open or not.

        Last I saw they closed at around 5:30 or 6pm weeknights and they were open Saturdays but closed Sundays. Does that seem right?

        1 Reply
        1. re: egon61

          I walked by last night around 7 and it looked like they were open. i was across the street, so i couldn't check hours, but perhaps they've extended them for the summer.
          i haven't had the pistachio gelato at either place, but of the flavours I have had, DaCapo comes out on top for me.