How would you describe your relationship – personal and professional – with food?
In Novedrate, in the country house in Como province I used to live in, great importance was attached to the entire ritual of eating: we ate for pure pleasure, never for a mere question of nourishment. My father was a renowned gastronome and like many gastronomes of the time, he had never cooked anything in his entire life. He was an expert on the theory and techniques of cooking but the practical side was delegated to our cook Vincenzo. Every day, they drew up the menu together, which consisted of three or four courses. When my father died and Vincenzo went to work elsewhere, I took over the kitchen: in a few years, I became quite a dab hand among the pans, saucepans and various utensils. Now I am able to cook almost all the family recipes, which amount to nearly 10,000. Very often, thanks to this collection, I happen to remember with pleasure the people who dropped in to see us or episodes from a distant past.
What's the first taste you remember and why?
There is no early flavor I remember in particular. I believe this depends on the fact that there was such an abundance and variety of them on hand every day... If I think back, however, I remember that when I was a very small child, after walking in the garden with my mother, we always passed by the vegetable plot where I used to pick tiny carrots when in season and ate them once they had been washed in the drinking fountain. A lost aroma and flavor.
Close your eyes and think of fine dining: what do you see?
Many images come and go as if my mind were a kaleidoscope: dishes, tables, and then everything comes to a standstill. About ten years ago, I was not far from Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos, on a dirt road crossing a forest close to the banks of the Mekong. A wood hut, without any sort of signage, acted as a small restaurant: there I was served with the best dish of pan-tossed rice spaghetti and vegetables I have ever tasted.