The urgency of a gesture

The maître of Francescana and the reasons behind Identità di Sala, on February 10th in Milan

Giuseppe Palmieri, maître and sommelier, reflecte

Giuseppe Palmieri, maître and sommelier, reflected on the plate of Osteria Francescana in Modena, +39.059.210118. He will have the task of opening the day dedicated to Identità di Sala, in the Blue Hall 1, on Sunday February 10th in Milan, at 10.30 a.m. Talks by Josep Roca, Alessandro Pipero, Davide Groppi, Raffaele Alajmo, Umberto Giraudo e Marco Reitano and Antonio Santini

Everything began at a precise moment, a little over one year ago. At Glocal, in November 2011: a party with people who met for the first time and straight away felt an attachment. People who wanted to be part of a team and hoped to do their best so that the dining room and cellar could stand out. Things never happen by chance. There were all the terms and it was the right moment to launch a debate. To provoke and stimulate critique in a productive way, make it a real driving force for Italian dining.

Osteria Francescana's mise-en-place

Osteria Francescana's mise-en-place

There’s the urgency to raise the most important issue, that is to point the spotlight on dining room and cellar, incomprehensibly ignored and in the dust of a gruppo Italia to which they belong, guilty of losing the daily life of their profession, the most beautiful in the world: you’re not born a waiter, you become one. The recent past of our sector’s congresses tells 12 years of successes, from Lo Mejor de La Gastronomia in San Sebastian with Rafael Garcia Santos, to Milan with Paolo Marchi and Identità Golose. These events had the merit of launching the great gastronomic contemporary cuisine and its protagonists at the stove.

So why neglect the dining room and cellar? I ponder this and with the necessary self-critic attitude I believe that we who work in the dining room probably had little to tell, we hadn’t understood the real value of the master role of those who move outside the kitchen. But we’ve arrived there. The moment everyone was hoping for is two steps away. It’s an opportunity we cannot waste. On February 10th in Milan we will have the chance and the great responsibility of presenting the dining room and cellar; of highlighting concepts, ideas, and most of all we will be able to tell about a role people should look at with true interest, so that the almost empty classes majoring in dining room and cellar in catering institutes, will be repopulated with girls and boys who have the desire and courage to face lots of work, with a hanging head, for the love of a profession, the most beautiful profession in the world: when I grow up, I want to be a waiter!

Palmieri's tatoo: "low profile, highest performances"

Palmieri's tatoo: "low profile, highest performances"

We have the duty to demonstrate all the good and interesting things we can do and need to tell. The duty to achieve the same level of passion and availability that still makes us differ from our colleagues in the kitchen. We have the chance to lay bare feelings, projects, ideas, concepts. We need to look at this historical moment as the chance to consolidate gruppo Italia, the real objective of my beloved Francescana. In a continually divided country, we have the duty to mend the rips and embrace everyone; lower the tones, look each other in the eyes (damn, we’re loosing sight of one another) to demonstrate that the time has come to do something for contemporary gastronomic cuisine. The Italian dining room and the cellar need to come full circle, so that all the efforts of chefs Bottura, Scabin, Alajmo, Cedroni, Uliassi and so on, have a meaning.

This is the true, big objective. We need to create a group, foster people in the dining room and cellar who are reliable and credible. We need to be educated and refined, capable to consciously tell the dream of these great chefs and their extraordinary intuitions. This is the true and big responsibility. This means raising the role of dining room and cellar to the highest level. The task is huge and directly proportional to the commitment we will all put in concluding the service.

Walking beside Piccioni, an artwork by Maurizio Cattelan

Walking beside Piccioni, an artwork by Maurizio Cattelan

There’s no ambition for the role of protagonist. There’s no space for prodigies. All for one and one for all. This is the destination. We want to reach this objective because we aim at new starting points. We are aware of our history and tradition, we will take on more and many risks: we have the duty to always do our best. Research and vanguard are our watchwords. The real man and woman of the dining room and cellar are such if they understand the role of the gregarious. So dedicate your energies and your time to your leader. I do it every day, in via Stella. I will die at the Francescana.

Together and at the same pace, both as chefs and waiters, we’ve covered too long a road not to comprehend that it is necessary to invest in the dining room and cellar. «Find what you love and let it kill you», Charles Bukowski wrote not too long ago. Each one of us has the duty to participate, there are no protagonists to be adored, but a real group to hand to history, so that both in the dining room and in the cellar a future can be possible.


In sala

The public side of a restaurant seen by its protagonists: maître, restaurant managers, waiters