:: itchefs-GVCI ::

Grana Padano




Mark Ladner

Cesare Casella, renowned Italian chef in New York City (Salumeria Rosi) and itchefs-GVCI leader in the US, tasted the newly launched second “Collezione” of dishes by Mark Ladner. Executive chef at Del Posto Restaurant in New York City, one of the establishments belonging to Mario Batali and the Bastianich family (Lidia and Joseph), Mark is among those non-Italian-born chefs who are amazing interpreters of theItalian Cuisine at a worldwide level. “The difference between Mark and most chefs cooking Italian, is that Mark investigates and is more knowledgeable than most the other chefs – whether Italian or not. Italian cooking is his passion and I think that because he is not Italian, he researches and learns about everything Italian to make sure his food is more authentic”.



Mark Ladner
Mark Ladner & Cesare Casella

Read what Cesare Casella writes here: "Last week I went to taste the second Collezione of Mark Ladner at Del Posto.

Mark has created something fantastic! Like in every respectable collection, each season brings something new and exciting. With Mark’s Collezione, it is not only the combination of food and wine that makes it fantastic – it is the food, wine and china – I love that!

Mark Ladner is a "biblioteca". The knowledge that Mark has about Italy, its food, history and culture is visible throughout the entire Collezione, down to the head of the tuna, Ginori plates and vintage implements of service. The difference between Mark and most chefs cooking Italian, is that Mark investigates and is more knowledgeable than most other chefs – whether Italian or not. Italian cooking is his passion and I think that because he is not Italian, he researches and learns about everything Italian to make sure his food is more authentic. And it is! Mark’s passion, combined with the infrastructure, brain trust and resources at Del Posto makes his new Collezione... True Italian cooking!

Mark Ladner
Ladner at work

The Collezione started with Pane Filone hot pot with Vittorio Cassini 2010 (the extra virgin olive oil). I recognized the pot that Mark brought to the table from afar as a vintage Alessi pot, designed by Marchesi. The bread (baked in the pot) came out of the oven just 2 minutes before. In front of the table he took the bread out of the pot, ripped it with his hands and put in on my plate. Then Mark came with a small bowl with dusty stuff, that he told me was frozen extra virgin olive oil. This was the first time in my life that I saw dry, extra virgin olive oil from Liguria, that was frozen! I think that he chose the olive oil from Liguria because they produce delicate oils. So on top of the hot bread he put the frozen oil. As I waited for the oil to turn BACK INTO LIQUID, I smelled all the aroma from the oil on the bread, and I ate it with my hands. There were no utensils on the table. I ate it all.

Mark Ladner
Anellini (rings)

Mark Ladner
Cesare picking up the anellini (rings)

Mark Ladner
100 layers lasagna

Mark Ladner
100 layers lasagna

Mark Ladner
Polenta Friuli style

Mark Ladner
Ossobuco sauce

Mark Ladner

Mark Ladner

Mark Ladner
Tree di Cacao

Mark Ladner
Tangerines on ice

Mark Ladner

I started to understand the beginning of the Collezione. The plate for the bread was from Richard Ginori, plates that all the Kings in Italy have. So at this point I begun to see what the menu was about – it is not only the food, but the vintage pots, the 1880 Richard Ginori plates, Masa Italian linens, and the glasses designed especially for Del Posto.

The next course was Pinzimonio in Bagna Caoda. Bagna caoda is a traditional dish from Piemonte. But here Mark served a non-traditional type of bagna caoda with ingredients they don’t have in Piemonte like beefy jerky, pretzels, cheddar cheese and black truffles – it was very good and very interesting because still there were no utensils.

The Soft Scrambled Eggs were served on more very rare china from Richard Ginori, this time the Museo collection. The eggs had the garlic anchioves sauce from the bagna caoda, caviar and were so soft... the combination put together was fantastic. Mark spoke a lot about this dish, but I was more interested in drinking the wine to care about the perfect combination that he put on the plate. The wine was Alteni di Brassica, 2007, from one of the most prestigious Italian wine producers (Gaja).

When the Wild Black Bass in Moorish Spices arrived, it was presented on the table in another beautiful vintage oval shapped copper pot from Alessi. On top of the pot was the fried bass skin. When Mark presented this, I first thought the fried skin was the dish itself because it was so good. But instead Mark opened the pot and there was a whole bass, the length of the pot. The pot was built specifically to cook fish (it was a Pesciera). Then he took the pot back to the kitchen, and returned with the fish flaked in small pieces and served in a vintage stainless steel round bowl (by Alessi), that was shallow, light and beautiful. Inside was the bass with sweet clams and a spiced flavor. The fish was paired with a Rose from Moltepulciano d’Abruzzo.

With the Insalata Caprese with Testina di Tonno, I tasted the head of the tuna fish in an incredible way. When I closed my eyes and ate the tuna, in my mouth I felt and tasted the head of the fish, and the cheek of the fish, because the head had so much flavor and is the best part of the animal. Mark prepared and canned the tuna fish himself. The burrata tasted like it had arrived from Italy that very morning. And the tomatoes were so sweet, like candy, I ate the vine too.

This combination and the colors was amazing. Mark’s interpretation with Italian food – it is a classic example of True Italian cooking because the burrata is a product imported from Italy, and served with a local product.

It was almost spiritual - the incredible combination of these dishes – the fact that the tuna tasted like I was eating the head of the fish and the burrata and tomato, and the choice of the sparkling Rose.

The Fonduta e Robiola Anellini with Black Truffles and Vacca Rossa (the cheese) was fun. The intention of this dish was to pick the anellini ring up with your finer and run in through the cheese and black truffles. The anellini was shaped like an engagement ring.

The 100 Layer Lasagna is 50 layers of ragù that is cooked for 6 hours and 50 layers of pasta. Again, the dish came on plates from Richard Ginori.

Before Mark served the next course of Bigoli con Anatra and Goose Liver, he brought out friulian style polenta and poured it on top of a marble table and let it sit while I ate the bigoli.

This traditional pasta (by Tony) was made with duck. It was a whole-wheat pasta made with the torchio, a typical instrument for making pasta in Veneto. Tony grated the frozen liver over the pasta. I loved the liver, it was fantastic! And the pasta was so "scrunchy" – like when it has a bite but it’s not crunchy – it’s perfect!

The dish, Veal in Ash with Grass and Corn, was served in 2 stages. The veal itself was dusted in powdered hardwood charcoal then grilled to 100 degrees. The kidney is cooked in its own fat. Alongside the veal at the table, Mark had a sauce made from ossobucco in a copper pot. He plated the set polenta, sliced the veal and finished with the vinogrette of ossobuco made with the same Barolo we were drinking! Bergadano Barolo “Sarmassa” 2001

Then he served the polenta crusty from the inside of the cast iron vessel, made only with water and extra virgin olive oil. It made a crunchy chip, and he served it on top of tall grass, with the kidney condiment. The picture is beautiful.

I was introduced to the beginning of the desserts by Brooks, and Mark joined me at the table. The Salt Baked Pineapple was the first of five desserts and began with the international symbol of hospitality, salt roasted with spices and frozen yogurt. The peel was soaked in spices and dipped in Greek yogurt and frozen. A perfect segway to the dessert courses.

The Eggplant Costata with Sheep's Milk Ricotta Straciatella and Chocolate Olive Oil was a trip into Naples. It was nice because it was equally savory and sweet. And the ricotta ice cream was the best I’ve ever had – even in Italy. It was fantastic.

The Tree di Cacao was so sexy and the Tangerines on ice were very good, along with Lidia’s Fregolotta. The way they finished the Collezione with dry cookies, and the juice of the fruit all over the table, it was so Italian – this is what it is like in Italy.

The sequence of the dishes was great too. I ate the chocolate and was so full. And then the tangerines, it made my mouth ready to eat more chocolate – because the tangerines were soft with acidity and the chocolate was crispy. The dried cookies were the perfect way to finish.

The Service of café alla Napoletana was being prepared from the start of the desserts. I know, because I smelt it! They whipped a splash of the coffee with sugar in front of me and it was delicious.

This Collezione by Mark Ladner is what I mean when I talk about True Italian cooking."

Read the article also in True Italian Cooking the new blogspot by Cesare Casella http://truitalianusa.blogspot.com/

Mark Ladner.

Protegé of Mario Batali and Executive chef at Del Posto Restaurant, Manhattan, began his education at Johnson & Wales before moving to his native Boston to cook with Todd English at the original Olives Restaurant in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Mark then moved to New York City where he worked for several years with Scott Bryan and Jean Georges Vongeritchen before opening Babbo as a sous-chef. Mark then opened Lupa, Otto and Del Posto with partners Batali, Joe Bastianich and Jason Denton.
Mark cooks a sensible blend of rustic Italian flavors, using responsibly raised and locally grown products.
He currently resides with his family in Greenwich Village.

From Italy and Chile: The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oils


Two Italian extra virgin olive oils and one from Chile have been declared the best in the world at the recent Sol d’Oro 2010, an international competition celebrated within the International Salon of Quality Extravirgin Olive Oil (Verona, 15-20 March 2010). The award for the best “light fruity” went to Agricola y Forestal Don Rafael of Santiago de Chile. For the "medium fruity" category  the prize went to  Villa Stabbia di Massa Cozzile (Pistoia - Tuscany) and for the "intense fruity" to Frantoio Quattrociocchi Americo di Alatri (Frosinone - Latium). Many Italian producers, given the bad year they had in terms of harvest quality and quantity preferred not participate in the competition. On the other hand the award received by Chile is a deserved acknowledgement for the work done by the almost 40 Chilean producers who export the 20% of the 2500 tonnes of production


Ricciarelli and Bologna’s Potato Are Now Protected By The European Union


The European Union gave the green light for the inclusion of two other Italian products in the Denominations of Protected Origin and Indications of Protected Origin (DOP and IGP in Italian). The products in question are the "Ricciarelli di Siena" and the "Patata di Bologna". The Ricciarelli are a traditonal Christmas sweet made in Siena and its surroundings since long time and today consumed all year round. The famous potato from the province of Bologna has always been a favorite of good food lovers, for its peculiar color and taste, generated by the conjunction of climate, soil, cultivation techniques and conservation systems. Soon the delicious Marrone (chestnut) della Valle di Susa is expected to enter the register of DOP and IGP as well.


Chefs abroad for the traceability of high quality Italian extra virgin olive oil


Sante de Santis, Pietro Rongoni and Fabio Cappellano

The CNO (Consorzio Nazionale degli Olivicultori), a 40-year-old Italian National Organization of more than 200.000 olive producers, has chosen three renowned chefs from the itchefs-gvci network to launch it´s European campaign for the traceability of high quality Italian extra virgin olive oil. The chefs are: Sante De Santis, chef patron of the restaurant San Pietro in Stuttgart (Germany- 23. 03. 2010), Pietro Rongoni chef patron of La Serenata in Moscow (Russia- 27. 03. 2010) and Fabio Cappellano of Qualitalia, in Delft (The Netherlands- 29. 03. 2010), who has been supported by the Restaurant Artusi. During a week of tastings and Special Dinners, open to media, opinion leaders and industry operators, the chefs, accompanied by Rosario Scarpato, itchefs-GVCI Managing Editor and GVCI Honorary President have promoted the traceability system that the CNO has created and is implementing. Top representatives of the CNO have introduced the events in all three nations introducing the system includes a voluntary certification allowing to qualify extra virgin olive oil as ‘High Quality’, when the 120 guidelines and practical indications are met by the oil producer.

These guidelines range from soil preparation, olives harvest, milling to oil distribution and storage. In such a way the Consortium not only certifies the origin of the products, following the production path from cultivation to commercial distribution but it guarantees the application of the best production practices, in order to ensure both food safety and consumers alike.

High quality Extra Virgin Olive oil, each with its special taste and aroma, are tools in the hands of creative chefs, real ambassadors of quality, who make thousands of recipes mixing ingredients in perfect combination with the many nuances in taste of the different cru of extra virgin olive oil. Italy, second producer country, is leader with the richest number of cultivars (more than 500) due to the great variety of soils, microclimates and to the long commitment of olive growers during centuries of cultivars improvement. Such richness deserves to be enhanced and disseminated. This is why the Consorzio Nazionale degli Olivicoltori, has aimed first of all at implementing the traceability of high quality Italian extra virgin olive oil.

An extensive reportage on the CNO traceability system will soon be available in www.itchefs-gvci.com.



Mario Caramella: "When Marchesi Came To Hong Kong"


Gualtiero Marchesi
A picture of the time: Mario Caramella (far left) and
Gualterio Marchesi (in white)

Gualtiero Marchesi was invited to Hong Kong by the Grand Stanford Intercontinental Hotel. It was a great success. I was the chef de Cuisine of the Mistral, the Italian Restaurant of the hotel. We had invited some prestigious Master chefs from Italy before, such as Mario Musoni. But in that occasion we were determined to do something very big, so we invited Marchesi. The concept of the Mistral, however, was far too casual for a three Michelin star chef as himself, so we decided to invade the Belvedere, the French restaurant of the hotel. The cuisine of Marchesi’s Bistrot was offered at the Mistral, and that of the Gualtiero Marchesi´s restaurant at Bovesin della Riva (first Italian Restaurant ever given three Michelin stars) at the Belvedere. Marchesi had invaded with great success practically the whole Hotel.

Marchesi was the first great Italian chef who cracked the long hegemony of French cuisine in Hong Kong. Before he came along, in the former British, people and media used to talk only of chefs as Bocuse and Robuchon. The great Italian chefs were basically unknown. With the visit of Marchesi the work of Italian chefs in Hong Kong Gabriele Colombo at the Grissini in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Umberto Bombana at Toscana in the Ritz Carlton and myself - were finally greatly appreciated. We made the people of Hong Kong realize that the level of modern Italian cuisine was much higher than the stereotypes of pizza, pasta and a mandolin.

Gaultiero Marchesi and Mario Caramella
Gaultiero Marchesi and Mario Caramella

Journalists, television networks, many chefs and industry operators, but overall many many clients, came to see Marchesi and to taste his food. The hotel restaurants were fully booked every night, which was something quite normal for the Mistral, but not for the Belvedere, that had an average of 20 customers per evening.

Among the young chefs who came as Marchesi´s assistants there were names that are today are among the most renowned Italian chefs. Ernst Knam, for example, today one of the greatest pastry chefs in Italy, who was obsessed with soufflés. And Andrea Berton, then chef de partie at Bovesin della riva restaurant and today chef of one of the most successful restaurants in Milan.

I’ll never forget something that happened when Gualtiero Marchesi was interviewed by a journalist of the South China Morning Post. I was the interpreter. The journalist asked Marchesi how old he was. “Sixtyfive”, he answered. The journalist commented that usually at that age people retire and asked another question: Who, in Marchesi’s opinion, was the future of Italian cuisine? And Marchesi seriously replied: “I am”.


Mario Caramella

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