:: itchefs-GVCI ::

Grana Padano

2010



AN ITALIAN CUISINE BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

Gualtiero Marchesi

Gualtiero Marchesi, possibly the most famous Italian chef worldwide, has just celebrated his 80th birthday. There are many, the people who, in Italy and abroad, have written extensively on his life, career, cuisine and beliefs. Among the most poignant profiles on the Master Italian chef ever published is the one signed by Spanish food critic Rafael García Santos, founder and director of the prestigious publication Lo mejor de la gastronomia. Here some excerpts from the article published in 2006.

“(Gualtiero Marchesi) has acomplished a corpus of work that is utterly personal and Italian. It includes dishes whose glory will endure the passing of time. His spirit and erudition have created a school with disciples of such relevance as Paolo Lopriore, Carlo Cracco, Enrico Crippa, Davide Oldani, Andrea Berton, etc. It is as a consequence of all this that he is world famous.

Rafael García Santos
Rafael García Santos

His cooking is branded by the kind of passion that comes from art. He paints, in such a way!, using china as a canvas. The beauty as well as the minimalism in the layout of his compositions has given them character and an unmistakeable mark. He tends to display esential, very thought-over constructions, using very few elements, that express talent, loads of talent, so much so that the the way in which he carries it out makes the difference. Two, three, four elements, amazingly enough, compose an astounding, radiant body. The examples are endless. To name a few: the cold spaghetti, caviar and chives salad: a revolution of display, three details, lots of magic, the fundaments of epicure... Another artistic wonder: the open raviolo; a bold, round star of open leaves, extended and pointy like a round, see-through mille feuille ”.

Gualtiero Marchesi
Some of Marchesi´s famous dishes:
1. Rice, Gold and Saffron,
2. Fuchsia Beetroot Risotto (among others) and
3. Open Raviolo

“The reason is that Gualtiero has always been a character very sensitive to beauty, innovation, simplicity and pure, imaculate flavours. All these: the milanese feeling, the french technique and the exceptional gift of taste, both of flavour and inteligence, are a part of the most laureate of the risottos: rice, gold and saffron. A perfect tactile contrast between the cereal and the creamy sauce melting into one other self. And when you taste it, the rice keeps its identitly, the saffron appears unmistakeable and delicately”.

“Traditional flavours, sauces with the body of a model and striking artistic beauty. What can be said of such exceptional works as the spaghetti “Dritti” or the marchesian extravaganza, the virtuous fuchsia beetroot risotto, the erudite veal steak alla Rossini ... a cuisine that´s beyond good and evil. Of a character that transcendes time, that enjoys art and urges you to taste it”.

 

LUCA MARCHESI: LIFE (AND CHALLENGES) OF AN ITALIAN CHEF IN MONGOLIA

Ulaanbaatar. “Here I am, trying to describe my new adventure in Mongolia, this land so different from the places and the culture where I come from.

I was born in Friuli Venezia Giulia, my father was an alpino soldier and I spent most of my life between Alto Adige and northern Veneto. I have been involved in cuisine for long time and I guess my passion for cooking and good food comes from my grandmothers, both born in Ferrara (Emilia Romagna region).

I worked in China and Korea and recently arrived in Mongolia. Many don’t even know where this huge nation is located on the world map and, for me, it was not an easy choice, from the professional point of view. Mongolia is out of all the beaten international touristic tracks but, since my partner is Mongolian, I decided to make, for the first time in my life, a sentimental decision about my career.

The first impact wasn’t neither easy or encouraging. At the end of the first night of work I was about ready to catch the first flight back home. I felt as Gordon Ramsay in that TV series “Kitchen Nightmare”, where he goes in a restaurant and notes the many and many faults. Mamma mia. The kitchen I arrived in promised nothing good: the staff didn’t seem to be very cooperative. Fortunately, I personally knew the chef who did the opening, so I said to me: ‘There must be some good in this, so let me see the positive aspects, let me give it a go”. Soon, in the next few days, I had the opportunity to better understand who the collaborators I had really where: some of them where good, others definitively not. They all got to work each day but that was not enough. I admit I am not easy to deal with, but honestly I cannot stand people working without passion. You cannot work in this business without heart. I made this clear to my staff and as a consequence, I started to lose them one by one. They found all the possible excuses for resigning and left me in a difficult position or, as we say in Italian: “In braghe di tela”, which means you are left with nothing.

I didn’t panic though and step by step have created a new brigade. I am aware that there is some more work to do but today I have a group of collaborators that is close to what is needed for a 200-seat restaurant to work properly.

What annoys me most, today, is the fact that it’s hard to find here the daily basic products I need to produce Italian cuisine here. I am talking about very basic ingredients such as fresh basil and rosemary, just to give an example. I try to do the best I can; fortunately I have flour, eggs and durum wheat semola, so I can make good home made fresh pasta. Here my Emilian blood helps me a lot.

That’s only a first step. There is a lot to do to educate the Mongolian consumers. Here if you present a fillet cooked at the right point, meaning slightly pink, you can be sure that the client will reject it. They want it ultra well done… Then, of course, some of the customers complain because the meat is too tough. The fact is that Mongolians are used to a cuisine heavily based on soups and boiled dishes, where the ingredients (meat, potatoes, carrot) are cooked for long time. Furthermore, the meat is tough in Mongolia because there is no ageing after slaughtering. If you go to the market early in the morning, you can see the queue of live animals waiting to be slaughtered. Two hours later their meat is already lying on the market benches for sale. No aging whatsoever and the beasts are very lean, with very little fat. So forget to use strip loin for a tagliata. Mongolian clients want it ultra well done and it turns as a “suola di scarpa”, shoe leather. I can only use the fillet, which I can cook as they want it without having it too tough and dry.

There are problems with vegetables as well, despite the relative closeness to China, the authentic paradise of vegetables. The European vegetables here can turn out to be anything. You ask for two kilos of zucchini? Well, most likely you get a single zucchini of 2 kg (which my late grandfather would have used only to dry for the seeds). Slowly, my suppliers began to provide me with decent zucchini, at least in summer. In winter time the quality of vegetables goes down very much.

Fortunately the company that employs me, after seeing my efforts, has begun supporting me. Now, management authorizes me to have shipments of fresh vegetable, fresh fish, and all is necessary to run an Italian kitchen, from Beijing. It’s only a first step, I know. I am convinced, however, that with support of my company, I can put Ulaan Baatar and my restaurant, on the international map of good food and quality Italian cuisine.”

 

GIANFELICE GUERINI: THE CHEF WHO FEEDS THE FERRARI CHAMPIONS

In his way, thanks to his position, he is a permanent ambassador at large of Italian cuisine around the world. Gianfelice Guerini, 2010 GVCI chef of the year, has a very special job: he commands the kitchen of the Ferrari Formula 1 team. He and his staff feed some of the greatest drivers, assistants and VIP guests in the whole Gran Prix.

Being part of one of the best known symbols of Italy – Ferrari, his cuisine is correspondingly firmly Italian and Gianfelice is very grateful to the dozen of Italian chefs working around the world (many of them belonging toGVCI) who have helped him in the last ten years to keep the standard of his Italian cuisine consistently good. Gianfelice was born in Brescia 46 years ago and worked as bartender, waiter and hotelier before becoming a chef. He is married to Natalya and has a 16-year-old daughter, Elisa. Look at the photo gallery and read what this special Italian chef says about his experience in Formula 1.

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BRUNO GAMBACORTA (EAT PARADE) RECEIVES A SPECIAL AWARD

Italian TV food journalist Bruno Gambacorta has received a special Premiolino award for his articles and TV programs on the Italian food culture and the made in Italy products. Premiolino – The taste of sincerity is the most prestigious journalism award in Italy given to professionals who have contributed to the defence of the independence of opinion and freedom of the press. Bruno Gambacorta, who is the creator of the popular RAI – TV program Eat Parade Tg2, received the Birra Moretti Award, established in the edition of 2009.

 

UK COURT ORDERS CIPRIANI TO CHANGE THE NAME OF RESTAURANT

The famous Italian restaurant Cipriani in London, owned by Arrigo and Giuseppe Cipriani, and frequented by stars as David Beckham and Naomi Campbell has been ordered to change its name. The Court of Appeal of London has confirmed a sentence issued by a High Court Judge, two years ago. The Court has agreed that the ownership that the mark Cipriani no longer belongs to the Venetian family, but to the Orient Express group, that purchased it together with the homonymous hotel on the Laguna in 1967.

 
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