Enrico Cerea: Volunteer Cooking Has Allowed Me to Give Back

14 April, 2020

How did you organize the work?

At Campo da Ospedale, between chefs, attendants and office staff for logistics, we work in a team of fifteen, alternating over two shifts. Every day we prepare meals for around 150-200 people, from breakfast to lunch and dinner. It is demanding, but very beautiful ... Maybe I work more than before! (laughs, editor's note). I have no moments of relaxation and detachment, also because then. I am also following the delivery of the restaurant, Da Vittorio At Home: a home delivery service that we were already doing in unsuspected times.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day I wake up earlier than usual, at 7.15 am, at 8 am I am at the Da Vittorio restaurant, where I organize delivery with the guys from the brigade. I then go to the kitchens at the Fair, to see how the work proceeds, then I move to the Italtrans warehouses to manage the parcels, greet everyone and drink a coffee, then I go back to Da Vittorio, plan the orders and the following days.

The Canteen_Cerea Hospital_Bergamo

The Cerea family has a lot of catering experience: how much of this has served to manage this emergency?

Yes, it has served us a lot, especially because in catering there is adaptability and elasticity that are not typical characteristics of a fine-dining kitchen. For example, if I order the ribs and instead I get the spinach, no problem: I change the recipe and prepare the spinach with butter. To manage such a situation you have to be good at adapting to the unexpected, also because - among other things - at this time the products do not always arrive and are not delivered with the same frequency as before.

What do you think you will get out of this experience?

The joy of being useful, before I found the joy in cooking for the gratification of customers, now instead I cook to give happiness both to those who turn to delivery and to the operators in the hospital, who come to the canteen and who can live a moment of serenity.

Chicco e Bobo cerea

What are the effects on Bergamo in this emergency?

It is and it was a very sad and touching moment, almost all of us have been affected by this ugly beast which is the virus, we are in a bad situation: the trucks that carried away the corpses is something poignant, but I think it happened to Bergamo that had the strength to react because it's in our DNA in Bergamo, working is a hobby, a passion, it is something that makes us feel useful. Only one question remains: why did it develop so badly for us?

After this experience, do you think something will change in your business?

Of course, initially yes: times and rituals will be different, we will have to get used to procedures and protocols that we are not used to, and which are difficult to enforce, but we will have to adapt. I don't know if we will become aware of this situation or forget it immediately: I hope that the teaching that Mother Nature wanted to give us will remain over time.

What's your reflection on the role of haute cuisine in the emergency: can we say it has become more "human"?

From a personal point of view, no, because we - as a family - in addition to having the Da Vittorio restaurant, have cooked for many company canteens with another activity of ours, which is more pop. It is there that you realize that even with a well-made tomato paste you can give a smile: those who are used to working well, work well in any situation, while those who work poorly, whether they do fine dining or not, will always work badly, with the things "done just to do it", and will never feel gratification. The beauty of finding satisfaction is this: even if you struggle, you don't feel it, because you get joy from your work.

chicco e bobo cerea

When the emergency passes what is the first thing you want to cook?

I am cooking in the hospital every day: we've prepared dishes like penne alla boscaiola or eggplant patties with smoked scamorza cheese ... But when everything ends, I can't wait to have a nice family barbecue, with a good red wine or a couple of bottles of bubbly!

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