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The creation of food memories, culinary identity, biodiversity and connecting with communities and the sense of team were just a few of the themes that resonated at this year's Identita Golose.
The S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna-sponsored haute cuisine chef congress, now in its 15th year, gave the stage to some of the world's best chefs to cook and present their philosophy over the past three days. This year's theme was: The Human Factor: Creating new memories.
Here are some of the highlights from this year's event:
Chefs Pay Tribute to Alain Ducasse
Italian chefs and ex-pupils of Alain Ducasse, Andrea Berton, Carlo Cracco, Davide Oldani and Massimo Bottura joined forces on the Identità Golose main stage to pay tribute to the legendary French chef in front of a packed audience.
"There is a common spirit that unites French and Italian cuisine - admitted a lively Ducasse, I have always been inspired by Italy at my kitchen in Monaco ... in fact we say that I started from your base and I improved it ” said chef Ducasse, tongue in cheek, amusing the largely Italian audience.
"When I open restaurants around the world, I interpret what nature gives in that precise place - continued Ducasse - Cooks are always in competition, but it is a way to seek perfection."
Milanese chef Andrea Berton from Restaurant Berton paid tribute to his lasting memory of a few months spent working for the chef by celebrating with a vegetable dish of potato stuffed with vegetables and set in a broth of asparagus and black truffle, described by Ducasse as "delicious." "My experience at Le Louis XV was fundamental because it made me understand what the kitchen was at an entrepreneurial level - explained chef Berton.
Chef Carlo Cracco, also from Milan, paid tribute to the multi Michelin starred French chef with a cream of morels reduced with a few lamellas of bianchetto truffle, combined with marinated and lightly fermented pears with walnuts cooked in milk and dehydrated. "Ducasse gave me the importance of rigor - said chef Carlo Cracco - If you worked with him, you had to be perfect every day."
Creator of Pop cuisine, Davide Oldani, focused on the tomato for his memory, "I remember when we worked at Ducasse, we created a very light tomato water, in contrast to the Italian red tomato sauces - said Davide Oldani.
Massimo Bottura stepped up for the final dish managing to riff on the best of both cuisines with his ravioli stuffed with leeks, black truffle and foie gras. "For me, ravioli is a container of ideas and this dish represents the dream of a French chef to make pasta like an Italian," he joked.
Chef Mariano Guardianelli from Abocar due cucine spoke about his personal journey from the Argentina of his birth to his current restaurant in Rimini, Italy. It's here that he serves mestizo dishes, utilising Italian ingredients in a reinterpretation of a hybrid cuisine that tells a new chapter in the Italian-Argentine story. Guardianelli told the audience about the influence of his grandmother and how she passed on that early knowledge of Italian-Argentine cooking, just as the countries’ pasts are bound by an intergenerational story of the movement of people, so too is the story of their cuisines which continue to influence and cross-pollinate each other with ideas, tastes flavours and emotions.
Gonzalo Luzarraga, chef at Rigò in London (soon to relocate to Parsons Green), born in Chile, but with Italian culinary training explained that he had to work to make London customers understand that his is not an Italian restaurant in traditional terms. "This is why I decided to translate the Italian ingredients into English on the menu, without changing the setting, in order to convey a different concept than expected, more international," he explained.
He started by preparing a dish of thinly sliced enoki (Japanese mushrooms) sautéed in butter, with Grana Padano and truffle, followed by a risotto prepared with black garlic, fermented with acacia honey for 14 hours, and completed with fermented algae from the north of England. "These algae, specifically, grow in the north of Scotland only at certain times of the year and one, in particular, has the taste of truffles. They are seven different algae, with different iodine intensity, which I passed to steam, ”he specified.
Creating New Memories
Lisbon chef and owner of dozens of restaurants, including two Michelin starred Belcanto, Jose Avillez, shared his mission of revisiting Portuguese cuisine. With 600 employees he is always inspiring the creative process because "creativity - he says - is the spark that brings us forward and it can never go out ". "Only human beings know how to tell stories - explains José Avillez - and telling stories is the only way to create new memories". "Every single ingredient in this dish tells a story of the past and creates new stories," concluded the chef.
Mehmet Gurs from Mikla restaurant in Istanbul took to the stage with a host of stories connected to the longevity and traditional production of ingredients as he works to rediscover Turkish culinary roots often drawing on mothers and grandmothers for their knowledge including a wild lavender jam made by the women in a small village off Smirne to ingredients spanning thousands like grandmother wheat and camel sausage drawing on a tradition of years passed.
German chef Tim Raue, from Asian influenced two Michelin star restaurant in Berlin, explained his love of Thai, Japanese and Chinese flavours and technique explaining that "evolution must be based on tradition". Amongst his dishes he presented an interpretation of a 700 year old Chinese dish of steamed whole fish with leek and ginger by retaining the freshness and spiciness using texture and technique to capture the flavours without the tedious job of picking the flesh from the fish bones.
Antonia Klugmann, a regular at Identita Golose spoke about the collaborative efforts at her team at her restaurant l’Antico Foledor Conte Lovaria in Pavia di Udine. Above all, she said that she strives to respect nature and looks to create dishes based on bioingredients grown in the ‘Orto’ at her restaurant as much as possible, which she demonstrated with a vegetarian dish showcasing cabbage.
USA chef, Will Goldfarb, from Bali took to the stage showing pictures of his restaurant and a newly planted 1000 square metre garden around his Room 4 Dessert place in Bali, where he grows medicinal plants that feature in his cooking.
Diego Guerrero from Madrid's two Michelin star DSTAgE also explained how he has been working to avoid using meat protein by experimenting with plant proteins as an alternative non meat source in his laboratory and creative cooking.
The Human Factor
Dominique Crenn opened her talk with a picture of the late Italian chef Luciano Zazzeri who took his own life at the age of 63. She asked the crowd for a minute’s silence before moving on the spend a large majority of her talk on the issue of well-being in the kitchen. She wanted to focus on the theme of “The Human Factor.”
She spoke about her own crew at Atelier Crenn and how she provides yoga lessons and planned days together away from the kitchen. How she has personally stepped away from the Escoffier brigade system to instead create a flatter hierarchy in which all chefs feel part of the creative process and she has built a HR team to help manage staff issues. “We don’t hire by CV,” she said, “we hire on attitude, not aptitude because it’s attitude that dictates the altitude you will reach.”
She also highlighted her new project: a unique boutique concept where she intends to teach social learning through the food she serves: “They’ll be no coffee cups, if people want coffee they can bring their own cup.” The chef will also not serve dairy milk, or the much loved alternative of almond milk, because: “it just takes too much water to produce”. The new boutique will try to teach and create conversation with everything they serve.
The chef left the stage to huge applause, she touched on kitchen culture issues affecting large groups in the crowd and the conversation she tapped into is something being echoed around the industry. At another event held in Spain this year, the Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, said the “Escoffier paradigm should go get lost!”. It will be interesting to watch how these conversations and ideas are eventually applied inside actual kitchens.
Connecting to community
Virgilio Martinez, all the way from Lima, Peru, came to Italy to deliver a message of biodiversity and connection to community. The chef cooked four complex dishes on stage, Jungle Fish from the Amazon, a unique potato crisp that used seven different styles of Peruvian potato, duck cooked inside leaf and edible clay and a corn and cocoa dessert.
Arriving on stage with a multicoloured mise en place, the chef told the stories of how he learned each dish, how he discovered ingredients and how almost every piece of knowledge found in Peru is thanks to the relationships he has built with local communities of producers, foragers and farmers.
Through his food, Martinez highlighted the immense research and exploration him and his team are undertaking across Peru. He also teased the idea of a new restaurant opening in the Amazon: his latest area of discovery.
The importance of team was never off the stage with most head chefs relying on assorted members of their kitchen team to cook and present their dishes as they spoke to the audience.
Will Goldfarb started his presentation with a group photo of his long serving team who he imagines as the next generation of pastry chefs, keen to empower them in their professional career.
Diego Guerrero explained he was one of the first Michelin star restaurants to close at the weekends to give his young staff a normal life and keep the "faith" of the team and the creativity and focus solid.
"The team is everything" said Massimo Bottura as he took to the stage on the last day and presented to a charged auditorium, "you can't do anything by yourself." "The secret of a great restaurant is a great team" he went on to reveal, "Osteria Francescana is made up of guys who make sacrifices. For us, every service is like playing the World cup final. Of course the roles are respected but here the dishwasher has the same value as the sous chef, because he cannot make mistakes and must give the best of himself." "It's the team that counts and it's the most difficult thing to create" he went on to say. "Each brings their own personality, strengths and weaknesses." In the spirit of his talk he welcomed his team on stage at the end of his presentation to enthusiastic applause from a standing audience.
S.Pellegrino Celebrates 120 Years
S.Pellegrino celebrates 120 years this year, and welcomed visitors with an immersive journey back in time through S.Pellegrino's at an Experience Table dipping into the four chapters of the iconic waters most defining moments.
Food was also centre stage for the three days with Peruvian chef Elizabeth Puquio Landeo, finalist of the Latin America of S.Pellegrino Youg Chef 2018 and winner of the Fine Dining Lovers People's Choice Award 2018 presenting a Peruvian and Italian influenced tasting dish of white fish, artichoke and Parma ham created especially for the occasion,"I love mixing acid, citric acid and fish, that's why I added orange juice to the artichoke cream and completed it with lemon jelly," she said, revealing the details of the recipe.
Pizza star Gino Sorbillo took the stand on the second day feeding an appreciative audience with his famous deep fried pizza, Neopolitan montanara, topped with a long cooked San Marzano tomato ragu and sprinkled with 36 month old Parmigiano Reggiano Malandrone or buffalo mozarella. "I created the pizza dough with a percentage of S.Pellegrino water," Gino Sorbillo ... "mineral water can give that magical touch that makes dishes unique, just like in the creations of great chefs."
On the closing day chef Alessandro Rapisarda of the Casa Rapisarda restaurant in Numana, in Ancona, Italian winner of S.Pellegino Young Chef 2016 and winner of Acqua Panna Contemporary Italian Award 2016, brought a sea breeze to the S.Pellegrino stand with his new Yogurt d'Amare dish. A sea-scented yogurt, presented in its personalized jar containing a base of shallot jelly, plain yogurt, sea urchins, seaweed, raspberry vinegar jelly and crunchy items ranging from sesame seeds to bread crusts. “It is a very special dish that works on contrasts, acid, sweet and marine, it took me about a month to develop it" he said.