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Apicius, the world’s most refined publication regarding the world of gourmet restaurants no longer exists in the way we remember it. In its place, however, is the newborn COOK.inc Officina internazionale di cucina (The international cooking workshop).
After six years of Apicius, the same publisher, Vanderberg Edizioni, embraces a new look but driven by the same desire to trace our times and trends through impressive, memorable images and words about and inspired by food. The director of this project, Anna Morelli, gives us a preview about what we can expect from this new experience.
Born in Brussels from a Peruvian mother and an Italian father, Anna is a passionate traveler, polyglot and ex-marketing consultant. After spending much of her life on planes from one continent to another, she married a Dutch man, Frans Vanderberg, and settled down in the Tuscan city of Lucca. And Tuscany is the setting for the headquarters of this new magazine, in a building which was an old spinning mill that features a top-of-the-line professional kitchen. After all, the magazine is sure to finish in the hands of the best chefs in the world. «This will be an open space, » the project’s director explains. «A place to experiment and exchange opinions, a crossroads of food culture.»
Let’s start with the name: what does COOK.inc mean?
If the name Apicius was chosen in honour of the first chef to write a cooking treatise during the Roman era, COOK.Inc expresses a concept at the base of our new philosophy: the desire to incorporate, to involve everyone and all cuisines, not just the avant-garde.
What will be different with respect to Apicius?
The photography will play an even more central role, thanks to the involvement of renowned names like Per-Anders Jorgensen. We’ve also left space to the cultural realms that aren’t strictly tied to restaurants, like region and territory, ingredients and cultural currants. For now, COOK.inc is published in Italian, comes out three times a year and will be carried in selected bookstores, but what we’re hoping for is for it to become a quarterly and for there to be an English translation.
For a while now, culinary trend watchers have had their eyes on Spain. Now where are they looking?
The gastronomic world is definitely paying attention to Northern Europe, where there’s a generation of new cooks who are also very environmentally-minded.
What’s the beating heart of the magazine?
It’s definitely in the workshop, which is the where pure creativity and experimentation is centered.
It will be a kind of laboratory open to the various discoveries and contributions from any chef who has something new to say.
Can you give us an idea of some content?
There will be a story dedicated to the Australian chef who works in London, Brett Graham, of the Notting Hill restaurant, The Ledbury, which is at the 34st position of the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant List. The photos were taken by Jonathan Glynn-Smith, who, despite not being specialized in food, is very close to Brett. He’s also behind the ad campaign for England’s upcoming Olympic atheletes. There will be some pages dedicated to Moreno Cedroni’s Madonnina restaurant and for the places section we’re suggesting a trip to Copenhagen. And in the cooks section, Andrea Petrini talks about Alexandre Gauthier, the promising 30 year-old from the La Grenouillère restaurant in Pas de Calais, the very north of France.
What’s your definition of avant-garde?
Avant-garde is what happens when cooks who have creativity and personality have used it to orient their work towards high-quality, creative freedom and a desire to excite. Their cuisine might be contested, criticized – it may generate controversy or debate, but that’s not important. It’s to be expected, because that’s the reaction that the avant-garde arouses in people. When they stop causing a stir it means that they’ve become traditional.
And the final pages of the new Cook.inc are dedicated to the fourth edition of Mistura in Peru, a conference capable of surpassing just the gastronomic dimension of food. The story was written by Anna Morelli herself. And once back from Lima, she’s more committed than ever to the wish expressed at the conference: to see a new kind of cook, one who doesn’t just work with food, but who brings culture to the world.