"We thought of giving back to Bergamo and its community as it has always given us over the years".
In one of the Italian provinces most affected by Coronavirus, the grateful words of chef Enrico Cerea from three-Michelin-starred Da Vittorio restaurant in Brusaporto, a few kilometres from the Orobic city, resonate like a balm for the spirit. The heartfelt appeal that launched on social media on March 18 on behalf of the whole Cerea family, the pillar of Italian catering, committed to the front line of support in the emergency.
In the media post, Chicco, as everyone calls him, asked for donations of food, volunteering to cook meals for the health personnel employed during the construction of the Campo degli Alpini Hospital, in the Bergamo Fair Area. Since then, more progress has been made, cooking for the canteen of the structure every day, which was set up in record time, and the first patients affected by covid-19 were transferred to the new space, from the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital.
We heard from the triple-starred chef, to find out more about this unique experience.
What prompted you to make the appeal?
It all started when I learned that a field hospital would be built in the pavilion of the Fair where we often operate: since the restaurant is not open, I thought about giving back to Bergamo, and its community, as it has always given me. So, I heard from the Civil Protection and we got organized: we familiarised ourselves with the logistics to organize ourselves, and only the food was missing. At that point, I decided to launch an appeal.
What was the response, was it what you expected?
More than a thousand companies contacted us, we had to immediately provide new warehouses to store the incoming goods. Fortunately, the Bellini family from the Italtrans company in Calcinate made their pallets available and everything started from there. For Easter alone, we received 15 thousand Colombe, 12 thousand chocolate eggs, not just from companies but also from master pastry chefs. There was a huge response, the difficulty was stopping the food arrivals and, given that this situation will continue over time, and we have given availability until August, we had to think of a solution to avoid food waste: On April 8 we launched a new initiative.
What's the new initiative about?
I found 12 thousand cardboard boxes and the Alpini and the volunteers of the Municipality of Bergamo will fill 300-400 of them at a time, to distribute them to families in Bergamo. We have structured an organization, in order to manage everything: we give priority to the Hospital da Campo in Fiera, then to the hotels used for hospitalization of the sick, then to the neediest families.
These are two initiatives born spontaneously, without knowing what we would have come across, and instead, they turned out to be two very beautiful and important experiences, of which we are proud. I was moved to see how many goods we received, at the end of the mandate I will collect the data and quantify the tons of food that are coming in support of our initiative.