2017, a year in food stories

From FICO to Intrecci, top facts including Cracco, Bottura and Cerea; Solaika, Sikelaia and hopefully an Italian-speaking Bocuse

Carlo Cracco appears on the door of his new resta

Carlo Cracco appears on the door of his new restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. It should open in mid-February (photo by Brambilla-Serrani)

Antonella De Santis, author at Gambero Rosso, asked some twenty experts what unforgettable events happened in 2017 before archiving it. We had to mention possibly, with a short comment. My answers gave me the input to write some more. First of all, here’s what Antonella wrote in her article under my name:

«Solaika Marrocco and Primo Restaurant in Lecce. Promoted chef at 22, not only has she given Primo Restaurant the right direction, she’s also won the Birra Moretti Gran Cru award. Personality and humbleness.

Turcinieddhi glazed in beer with onion and orange marmalade, tempura of critmi and hop infusion. Thanks to this dish, Solaika Marrocco won the 2017 Birra Moretti Grand Cru award

Turcinieddhi glazed in beer with onion and orange marmalade, tempura of critmi and hop infusion. Thanks to this dish, Solaika Marrocco won the 2017 Birra Moretti Grand Cru award

«Federico La Paglia and Sikelaia in Milan. Having opened Sikelaia in January, Sicilian Federico La Paglia presents his Sicily without any folklore whatsoever. Substance and strong will.

«Daniel Humm and the new Eleven Madison Park. Renovating when you’re the N.1 restaurant is something few will do. Changing the music in the kitchen is even harder. For bright minds».

To these three, I add a dozen more memories. It’s not a shortlist, it’s a trip down memory lane that starts with the extraordinary investment made by Coop and Eataly in Bologna: FICO, Fabbrica Italiana COntadina. Open daily, from morning till midnight, it celebrates our country’s food greatness. It should make everyone proud. Instead, many waste their time and health by being envious.

Martino Ruggieri, on the 1st October in Alba when he won the Italian finals of the 2019 Bocuse d'or 

Martino Ruggieri, on the 1st October in Alba when he won the Italian finals of the 2019 Bocuse d'or 

Bocuse d’Or Italia. In October, in Alba, for the first time the finals were finely organised and with a scope that went far beyond the event itself. In June, the European finals will take place in Torino. The world ones will happen in January 2019 in Lyon. Martino Ruggieri could be the first Italian to qualify, and this says a lot about his past. Enrico Crippa leads the Italian team. He’s contributing with his reputation and lots of commitment. He must be supported: Italy should have more to offer than just Brancaleone.

Cascina Vittoria and the Ricciardella brothers. MarcoAlessandroGiovanni and Simone are a real poker of talents in Rognano, between Milan and Pavia. Two in the dining room, two in the kitchen and in front of the oven and grill. Their ideas, dishes and wines are contemporary and very original. Something you’d expect from people who are truly talented – no copying and no frills here.

The Week of Italian Cuisine in the World. The first in 2016, the second in November last year. And now there’s 2018, the Year of Italian Food. The ministries of Culture and Agricultural Resources have joined forces so as to celebrate it in the best possible way. There’s lots to be done. We have twelve months. Ideas and clear content are urgent.

Marta, Enrica and Dominga Cotarella

Marta, Enrica and Dominga Cotarella

Intrecci, a school of high quality training for the dining room. The Cotarella sisters, DomingaEnrica and Marta, opened this school in Castiglione in Teverina on the border between Umbria and Lazio. Almost 20 have enrolled. They’ll study for one year before finding a job right away, given the market is thirsty for dining room staff. It’s a drop of water in the desert, but they had a good idea, and got association Noi di Sala involved. The first step… the first course… Beginnings always start from nothing.

Bread is gold. This is the title of the book by Massimo Bottura & Friends celebrating the Refettorio opened in Milan during Expo 2015. It’s a sort of new Artusi. Proceedings will support the Food for Soul foundation. Real facts in a world where words, envy and jealousy are always too many.

Gualtiero Marchesi. He passed away on Saint Stephen’s and for three or four days everyone was writing about him. As usually the case when a giant leaves us, many didn’t waste the chance to let us know that they were inseparable, every day of the year. It’s usually false, but it’s okay. Marchesi is still Marchesi and he will be remembered for concrete facts. This is what matters.

Pizza and Unesco acknowledging the art of the Neapolitan pizzaiuolo. A nice goal reached in Naples. Let’s hope the noisy folklore that followed the announcement will fade in the future. Pizza is now a real heritage of humanity. You can find bad pizza everywhere. As for the good one, it is never enough and it is not always in the Neapolitan style. Many have learnt to make a good one.

Franco Pepe in front of the oven at Authentica in Caiazzo in the province of Caserta

Franco Pepe in front of the oven at Authentica in Caiazzo in the province of Caserta

More and more Pepe in grani. The restaurant in Caiazzo has now a pizzeria within the pizzeria. Franco Pepe has completed his Authentica project. The oven is meant for some ten guests on the third floor, where the suites are. It’s something more than a chef’s table. It’s basically like the sushi counter, but adapted to pizza.

Cracco in Galleria. In six weeks’ time we’ll be able to dine at Carlo Cracco’s new restaurant (and much more). The last service in Via Victor Hugo was on Saturday 23rd December. Closed a chapter, there’s a new one ready to be written.

Renato Bosco, Francesco and Chicco Cerea at Cantalupa in Brusaporto (Bergamo)

Renato BoscoFrancesco and Chicco Cerea at Cantalupa in Brusaporto (Bergamo)

The Cerea family has many facets, one better than the other. The Cereas have the rare gift of being able to adapt to the circumstances. For sure their dinner at Cantalupa dedicated to street food made me come at peace with so many food festivals and street food events organised with lots of good will but little real quality. A dream in the nights of Bergamo.

Hurray for Antonio Albanese. After spoofing sommeliers, it’s now the turn of chefs. From videos with twirling glasses to the pages of Lenticchie alla julienne, the cookbook by chef Alain Tonné. From sea gull en croute to square root purée and finally the Dietician corner.

Frengo and the sommelier are still unique characters, thanks to television too. However, we’ve had enough of illogic new takes on recipes: either a cook has a genuine new idea, or he should better cook some lasagne.

A final small note: many say 2018 will be the year they’ll serve insects in restaurants. I’ll be happy to leave them to enthusiasts. My real revolution will be to eat well without grasshoppers, scorpions and crickets. I’ll leave them to those who appreciate them and perhaps have no other way to be noticed by the crowds.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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