With Milan Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2014 now in full swing, FDL decided to bring the worlds of fashion and food firmly together with our new 'Dress The Plate' challenge.
Speaking with some of the city's most creative chefs we challenged each of them to develop a dish that matched fashion trends from the current Fall/Winter 2013/14 collection.
Black and White, Gold and Tartan were the three highlighted trends with each chef given their chance to create a dish inspired by a chosen fashion theme.
First into the fray was Matteo Baronetto, chef at the two Michelin starred Cracco restaurant (owned by Carlo Cracco) in Milan. His chosen trend was 'Black and White' with a creation by Gianfranco Ferré and above you can see the delicate dish he produced.
Tell us a little about the process of how you created this dish.
The idea comes from the fact that for me the most important thing is not to forget that I'm Italian and that the Italian kitchen is the best in the world. When I create a dish, even if it's new, I always have to carry something traditional.
This dish is called Lasagna al Nero di Seppia (Lasagna with Black Squid Ink,). I thought that when I was a child and ate classic lasagna, the best part of it was the upper side, because when lasagna comes out of the oven there is that great crispy pasta with melted cheese...
So I said to myself: 'If I want to make a new dish I have to obtain something like that.' I put a classic besciamella as the base and then cooked the pasta in the oven. When you eat it you crush this crispy pasta and hopefully your mind remembers that taste of classic lasagna.
How did you approach the creation of this dish?
Thinking about any new dish is always a challenge. If I think about a dish from a visual cue, like in this case, I try not only to do a beautiful dish but one that also works well on a taste level. With my 'Black and White' dish, you can eat it, it's good. For me it's something right - it's beautiful and it works. I didn't want to create a dish because I knew that it was only for a shooting. Many chefs make really beautiful dishes that don't taste so good.
How did you make the form of the pasta, almost like a rose?
Very simple: I made a fresh dough with water, flour and black squid ink, mixed it by hand and then used a pasta machine to create a very very thin layer of pasta. I then formed the shape and placed it in the oven for 30 minutes, added besciamella and it's done.
Anything that was difficult?
In the kitchen things always change, the most difficult thing for a chef is to make the same dish always in the same way. The most important thing for me was to be clean and simple - three ingredients are usually enough.
Have you ever worked like this in order to create a new dish?
No, this is something new for me.
What do you like about fashion?
Elegance. A dress strikes me for its cut more than for its color. I think that Italian style really exemplifies this.
What do you think fashion and food have in common?
For me even food can be elegant. The way a designer thinks about how to create a dress, how to present it and deal with seasonality is like cooking. I can use an eggplant in June but not in December. It would be like a fashion store proposing a t-shirt in december when we all know a coat would be better.
What are the big differences between fashion and food?
It depends. When you eat you can look at an ugly dish, eat it and still be happy. However, in fashion you can look at a dress, find it extremely beautiful only to wear it and find you're really not happy.
Can food be art?
"In my opinion no. I really like art, my favorite artist is Modigliani, but I think food is better than art. If I am Picasso, I make Guernica, I made it once and it stays there. But Picasso can't make one, two, three, five Guernicas. Only one. Instead, I am Matteo Baronetto, I can make a dish, maybe the best dish in the world, but I don't make it only once, I do it a thousand times. This is the difference and the reason for me that a chef is not an artist, but an artisan? Yes, I think so."
Any fashion decisions you'd prefer to forget?
Velvet trousers. My dad bought always those trousers for me, and I think they're terrible.