The bad guy’s irony

A best of Matteo Fronduti... when he’s not cooking. A chef and his absurd clients

Matteo Fronduti, on top of being an excellent cook

Matteo Fronduti, on top of being an excellent cook – and soon a participant in TopChef Italia, on Nove as of mid September – is an ingenious author, who enjoys making irony out of the (many) absurd encounters with his clients. We created a small anthology (photo Maurizio Camagna)

A necessary premise: we can only speak well of Matteo Fronduti. Not only because at his Manna in NoLo (which stands for “North of Loreto”, a part of Milan more and more à la page) the food is excellent, the quality-price ratio is one of the best in town and the dishes are intelligent and original, including the bistro-approach of Davide Oldani, with whom he worked, plus oriental influences, the use of tradition and raw temptations on top of the anti-laziness that leads a chef to make pastrami one day, porchetta the next or to mature some good maison lardo and so on.

No: beyond any professional deontology, we can only speak well of Fronduti because he’s big, strong, has the face of a bad biker who can crash you, and really hits hard, though luckily only with his words, full of cutting irony on Facebook, where he enjoys ridiculing odd reviews on Tripadvisor, absurd and arrogant clients and their numerous nonsense phone calls.

Since Fronduti is excellent in the kitchen as much as when he’s in front of a computer keyboard we’ve looked forward for some time for him to collect his delicious anecdotes in a book. This said, we’d like to earn a chance to receive a copy (for free, of course). In the meantime, we’ve ransacked his profile on Facebook, and collected here and there some pieces of irresistible humour. We start with a series of phone calls worthy of the theatre of the absurd. The first, right when Manna was about to close for the holidays... (Carlo Passera)

25th October 2014: "Reservation book. Only Earthquake, Tragedy and Tempest are missing"

25th October 2014: "Reservation book. Only Earthquake, Tragedy and Tempest are missing"

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo "
-"Who’s speaking?" (very rude)
-"You might think it self-evident, but you just called a restaurant called Manna"
-"I don’t get it. Anyway, (even ruder) who’s speaking?"
-"Matteo Fronduti"
-"Who the fuck are you? What the fuck do you want? It’s the wrong number!"
A caress to you and one to the telephone.
I’m closing tonight and going on holiday. You’d need some too!

-"Restaurant Manna, good evening."
-"Hallo, good evening. Are you a restaurant?"
-"You might think it banal given the way we answer the phone, but yes, you called a restaurant"
-"I don’t get it. Anyway, are you those in Piazzale Governo Provvisorio?"
-"Yes, at number 6"
-"Are you those with the tables outside or the other with the crazy prices?"
-"No, no tables outside. We’re the bloody expensive ones."
Tu tu tu tu...

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo "
-"Hallo. I’d like to get some information. Are you open at lunchtime today?"
-"Yes, of course "
-"Excellent. I wanted to book a table for two. At around 3,45/4,00 p.m."
-"Unfortunately it’s not possible. The kitchen closes at 2 p.m."
-"So soon??? Then tomorrow at lunchtime"
-"Madam, I’m sorry to disappoint you once again, but tomorrow is our fixed day off. We’re closed"
-"Well, alright! Why don’t you say it that you don’t want to work"
Tu tu tu tu…

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo"
-"Yes, hallo. I’d like to speak with the chef"
-"Alright. May I ask you why?"
-"I wanted to apply to collaborate in the kitchen. I’m a chef de partie, an excellent one I’d say. I’ve worked with starred restaurants in Italy, France and Spain. I know pastry and bread making, I have experience with all sorts of meat, fish, game..."
-"Excellent. Do you mind if I interrupt you? Do you know what time it is, by any chance?"
-"Of course!!! It’s 1.30 p.m."
-"Excellent. Then conversation ends here. Thank you very much"
A caress to you, to the starred restaurants, to France and Spain.

To the left, Fronduti’s real grandfather

To the left, Fronduti’s real grandfather

The following day, 1,30 p.m.

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo"
-"Hallo. I’d like to speak with the chef if possible"
-"May I ask you why?"
-"I’d like half an hour of his time maximum to present an interesting offer. I’m a producer of excellent wine who..."
-"Who has a cousin who’s a chef de partie in starred restaurants in France"
A caress to you and one to your wine.

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo"
-"Hall, could I reserve a table for two on Saturday night? The name is Canistracci."
-"Of course madam, what time?"
-"I’d say 9 p.m. if possible."
-"Excellent. Saturday night, Canistracci, two people at 9 p.m. Can you give me a contact number?"
-"Yes sure (pause) 356 1144xyz, I repeat: 371 2740zxy"
-"Pardon. I’m afraid I didn’t understand"
-"Note it down, blessed child. For the last time: 366 2311yzx. And I’m not going to repeat it!"
-"Excellent. Till Saturday"
I guess I’m going to the seaside on Saturday.

-"Restaurant Manna hallo"
-"Hallo. I have a question: are you open at noon today?"
-"Of course, madam"
-"Is there place for two or are you full?"
-"No problem at the moment"
-"Do I need to book?"
-"It’s not compulsory. But since we’re on the phone, if you give me a name I’ll reserve a table"
-"No way, I’m not giving you my name. Are you kidding? Booking is something I can’t stand, it really upsets me. I won’t come for sure. You’re rude"
Thank you a lot and goodbye.

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo"
-"Hallo. Excuse me, I reserved a table for tonight at 8 p.m.. The name is Canistracci”
-"Yes, can I help you? "
-"Now, I would like to cancel, if possible. Unfortunately my wife soiled her underwear. But if we manage we go home fast so she can get changed and perhaps we can be there by 9.45 p.m. at the latest so you won’t lose a table on a Friday night "
-"Don’t worry. You’ve been very kind to let us know, even though you might have been a little too detailed. Take your time and see you next time"

29th June 2014: "First selfie. And last. This time however it was worth it"

29th June 2014: "First selfie. And last. This time however it was worth it"

1,30 p.m.

-"Restaurant Manna, hallo "
-"Hallo. This is Canistracci Oil, I was looking for the manager"
-“You can speak with me "
-"Alright, however, given the time you must be at work with the lunch service. I’ll call you later not to disturb"
This is Beckett, Samuel Beckett, am I right?

We’re looking for a waitress. We’ve received thousands of curricula. Read, skimmed, selected them. There are a dozen possible applicants left. I call to fix the interview.
-"Hallo, good morning. I received your curriculum, I’d like to fix an appointment for an interview"
-"Yeah, alright. Tell me how much you’ll give me and how much I’ll have to work so I don’t have to waste my time and come there"
Tu tu tu tu...

-"Restaurant Manna, good morning"
-"Hi. I had an appointment for an interview today. But I thought about it. I mean, I live in the centre and I don’t really think it’s the case I work in the suburbs. Besides I’d have to take the car for sure, I don’t trust the public transport over there. So what with petrol, time and shitty area it’s best if I’d earn more if I stay at home and do nothing"
-"Excellent. Well done. Sounds right. Do I owe you something for this call?"

-“Manna, good evening”
-“Hallo, good evening. I’d like to reserve a table for tonight, is it possible?”
-“Of course”
-“Out of curiosity...”
-“Yes, do tell me”
-“Is this Allan Bay’s restaurant?”
-“No, actually the restaurant is my own”
-“That’s not possible. I read on Il Corriere that this is Mr Bay’s restaurant”
-“Of course, you read it in the "My" restaurant column”
Please note the quotation marks. I love Saturday nights.
(1, to be continued)


Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera