From the moment I “moved” to Irpinia in October 2017, it felt like at every turn I was being told I had to eat at the restaurant, Megaron, where Valentina Martone presided as Chef. If I liked locally sourced seasonable ingredients that also celebrated the history of Irpinia, I had to eat at Megaron. Okok - I get it, I thought after the fourth or fifth time this happened, wondering how my first meal would ever live up to expectations that had been built up.
I should have just gone there immediately, because once I had my first bite of Valentina's delicious dishes, there was no going back. Not only did it live up to expectations, it was better.
Simply put, Valentina is a force of nature. There’s no other way to put it; don’t let her lithe frame fool you. She’s like a hummingbird pulsating with energy, strength, and passion for Irpinia and for promoting the abundant riches the lands here produce. Whether Broccolo Aprilatico of Paternopoli, the region’s first-class wines, or any number of other fantastic local products being grown with love and the techniques learned over generations, Valentina is promoting them.
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Chef Valentina is a self taught chef, having learned from her father (who also was a mentor to Irpinia’s Michelin starred Chef Antonio Pisaniello early in his career) and has never stepped foot in a proper cooking school. But in no way has that limited her ability to produce innovative, and most importantly, mouth wateringly delicious dishes that celebrate the best of Irpinia day in and day out.
Megaron Restaurant Valentina’s father started their family restaurant back in the 1970s and it’s become a Campania institution under Valentina’s steady hand. Dishes are crafted and executed to display the greatness of Irpinia on every plate. Her husband, Giovanni, runs front of house, and as long as you eat all your food, you’ll have no problems with him.
Celebrate Irpinia Chef Valentina throws some of the best parties to celebrate the distinctive foods and wines cultivated and crafted across Irpinia. And from the aforementioned Broccolo Aprilatico, to pastas, to cheeses, to beans, onions, and almost any other type of food you can think of, Valentina is cooking whatever is fresh and in season, creating edible art with every forkful course after course, combining flavors most would never dream to pair.
Valentina as a Role Model And what might be better than even her culinary skills is that Valentina is a woman I look up to in all walks of life. It’s not easy to be a woman chef in the culinary world, and she’s excelled. Her peers respect and celebrate her, and high profile individuals from all walks of life look to her expertise to promote regional and Italian cooking as a whole. I’ll be honest, she’s an inspiration to me, I’d go so far as to say even a role model.
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