Three days of rousing presentations, innovation, creativity and cooking have come to a close following the return of the annual international chef congress "Identità Golose."
From 3 to 5 March, Milan became the culinary hub of Europe attracting a spectacular line-up of over 120 Italian chefs from around the country as well as a host of chefs flying in from around the world, from the UK to Peru, in the 14th edition celebrating fine food.
Carlo Cracco, Massimo Bottura and more home grown chefs were joined on stage by international guests like French chef Yannick Alleno, British chef Clare Smyth and Virgilio Martinez, each with their own food story to tell.
Chefs, pastry chefs, front of house, their relationships and the relationships with their customers, producers and colleagues were all highlighted and celebrated as part of this year’s theme of the "Human Factor." “If there is one thing we can be sure about, we will never be able to buy conviviality on the internet in ten years", said Paolo Marchi, creator and curator of the events, for 14 years.
The sense of team, a theme that transcended language, country, cooking style and Michelin stars, played out on stage throughout the three days. Afterall, as Enrico Crippa from 3 Michelin starred Duomo in Alba computed, an impressive 840 minutes, 14 hours, of every day are spent with the brigade in his kitchen.
Italian chef Massimo Bottura took to the stage with a characeristically powerful entrance, bringing (almost) the entire brigade of Osteria Francescana with him: "We cannot talk about a human factor without talking about a team. The team is everything. Today everyone wants to be a chef. But the human factor is the sum of those who work in dairies, in the countryside, in the vineyards. Winning or losing does not matter, one must dream of the impossible together.”
The Art of Hospitality
The theme of human connection was explored beyond the kitchen and into the dining room with the front of house.
Trio of fine dining heavyweights, Josep Roca, Massimo Bottura and Will Guidara shared their thoughts on the "art of hospitality." Guidara was clear that “hospitality can’t be taught” while Bottura enthused that Cracco had opened his restaurant to him and his team the previous evening at a moment's notice, yet made them feel entirely “at home.” That for him, captured the very essence of hospitality.
Meanwhile Roca talked about the psychological complexity of delivering the customer experience: “there must be full harmony between the client, the kitchen and the hall" and "as a result, guests must leave the restaurant with the joy painted on their faces, because that is the sign of satisfaction and hospitality reaches its goal only if the customer is satisfied.”
A sentiment echoed during a surprise visit from Nobu, who, despite an empire of restaurants and success, said in the end it’s the satisfaction of a guest's parting smile.
Connecting with the Community
Clare Smyth spoke about the importance of working with local suppliers and the instrumental support she received in setting up her own restaurant, Core in Notting Hill, London.
Virgilio Martinez and his team from the research arm, Mater Inciativa, of the restaurant spoke of their mission to protect Peruvian biodiversity by making it scientifically and gastronomically interesting. They also spoke of their neighbours in the remote Andes, with whom they share, water, roads and biodiversity and knowledge.
Meanwhile, US farmer/chef, Chris Fischer suggested it’s time to start celebrating farmers and being prepared to spend money on the right ingredients and be aware on the impact that paying the right price for goods has on families.
The Experience Table: The multisensorial dining experience from S.Pellegrino
© Brambilla-Serrani | © Giuliana Pizzi
The multi-sensory experience at the S.Pellegrino experience attracted queues of curious foodies throughout the three days at Identità Golose. Expectant visitors were treated to four minutes seated at a round table in a darkened room as their five senses were stimulated with lights, colour and sound accompanying and a tasting conceived by Edoardo Fumagalli, the Italian finalist of the talent search, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018, as well as additional tastings by previous Italian finalists, Alessandro Rapisarda and Paolo Griffa.
Tribute to Marchesi
Italian chef Carlo Cracco made a heartfelt and moving tribute to Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi, because “in a congress dedicated to the human factor, I believe that the most beautiful thing is a dedication to Gualtiero who left us and from whom I learned almost everything I was able to express in the time."
Enrico Crippa also payed homage to the Maestro, preparing Capriccio. A beautiful dish of a carpaccio of sea urchins, galantine tomato, oil flavored with burnt onions, bernese pecorino cheese and alongside a squid bruschetta with cuttlefish bread.
Most Memorable Dishes
Virgilio Martinez travelled with a pantry of products fresh from the Andes and the Amazon. One of his most unusual dishes included crispy piranha skin and pureed flesh in a net of root vegetables.
A characteristically enthusiastic and entertaining Gaggan Anand didn't actually cook but instead described his “lick it up” dish of pea and mushroom mash inspired by his love of music to be licked off the plate to the backdrop of Kiss’ “lick it up.”
Meanwhile, Italian chef, Franco Pepe created an unusual pizza – legumisana – made with bean flour and topped with bean cream, crumbled sausage and kale.
Stay tuned for a gallery dedicated to some of the creative and exciting dishes presented over the three days!