The best of Identità Milano 2017, according to Paolo Marchi

The curator of the congress tells us what he liked best: «If you offer something worthy, you’re always rewarded»

21-03-2017

What were the best moments at Identità Milano 2017? We asked the curator and creator of the congress, Paolo Marchi (photo Brambilla-Serrani)

Photogallery

(Photo Brambilla-Serrani)
Cristina Bowerman and Enrico Crippa
Carlo Cracco
Niko Romito

«Once again changing was not a mistake», explains a seraphic Paolo Marchi, on his way to Miami while he’s still thinking of Identità Milano. His account (we’ve published the one given by the other founder of the congress, of which Paolo is also the creator and curator, Claudio Ceroni, see: Identità Milano: big numbers and new frontiers, by Carlo Passera) is very positive.

He recalls: «When we chose Palazzo Mezzanotte, in Piazza Affari, as the location for the first edition, some said it was daring. Four years later we had no more space left. There was no way we could continue there. So we chose MiCo. Off came other doubts, because the decision seemed very brave, especially during a recession. It turned out we had to move down one floor, because the one above, where we had initially settled, became too small. It now looks like it’s not enough either». In conclusion: «There’s a thread uniting everything: if you can offer something worthy and new, you’ll be rewarded. Work is acknowledged».

Marchi’s work is selecting topics, speakers, techniques and ideas. In such a varied congress, and of high quality, it may be hard to find the “best of”, especially so for someone like Marchi who assisted in the creation of each lesson. It is an effort we ask nonetheless, and he doesn’t step back. Here’s the “best of” Identità Milano 2017 according to Paolo Marchi: that is to say what he liked best, in twelve points, in a strictly unordered list.

Enrico Crippa and his sous Antonio Zaccardi observing carefully

Enrico Crippa and his sous Antonio Zaccardi observing carefully

IDENTITA’ ANTICIPATES (TWICE) – «Identità Milano’s task is to anticipate trends. I’m therefore happy of the success of the Saturday, whose themes were previously covered on the Tuesday. We’re giving more strength to themes wrongly considered as subsidiary. Yet this is no longer the case. In 2005, when we were born, Facebook had just debuted [in Italy it only became popular in 2008] and the use of the Internet itself was much less widespread. If you wanted to find out about a great chef’s work, you had to see him live; therefore whomever I called was good. Now information is easily accessible and thus it’s harder to present something new at a congress: it is right to look for different themes, as with the work we’re doing with pizza. It was in 2008 that a pizzaiolo first got on our stage – Simone Padoan – and the following year a specific section was born. Today you may take gourmet pizza for granted but it was a new topic at the time».

IDENTITA’ DI GELATO – «In this sense, I’m twice happy that the increased visibility was of benefit to sections such as Identità di Gelato and Dossier Dessert, which focus on topics which we’ll analyse at length. The rooms were full. Some say journalist still consider gelato not too interesting as a topic, but the success of the congress will help them change their mind. I’m sure they will become popular and we’ll work on it». See also: The revolution of gelato, by Mariella Caruso.

DOSSIER DESSERT – «In the same way, I’m thrilled with the recent attention paid to pastry making, both in restaurants and workshops, as long as it doesn’t tiredly reflect the classics. The same announcement made by Valrhona, which is to create a contest for young pastry chefs, is a proof of this». See also: Twelve times Dossier Dessert, by Sonia Gioia.

THE LESSONS GIVEN BY THE GREAT CHEFS - «It may seem banal, but I have to mention the lessons given by some of our greatest chefs. Davide Scabin at Identità di Pasta demonstrated he’s a lion, with a memorable idea (see also: Scabin, a totally different pasta, by Andrea Cuomo). Massimo Bottura explained how excellent cuisine comes from continuity in elaborating dishes (see also: Massimo Bottura, the Italian Renaissance in the kitchen, by Carlo Passera). Just like Carlo Cracco: the great chefs are both classic and capable of renovating themselves in a constant process (in the case of Cracco it includes a significant change of location, see also: The journey of Carlo Cracco, first top in the Galleria, by Sonia Gioia)».

VEGETABLES AND THEIR CONTRARY - «The congress confirmed, with Identità Naturali, the strength and the growth of vegetable based cuisine. But as if by reaction, it also generated interest for some “strong” proteins. Riccardo Camanini charmed with kidney (see also: What a lesson by Riccardo Camanini, chef of the year 2017, by Andrea Cuomo), Davide Oldani and the Pellegrino brothers with blood. They remind us that food is matter». See also: Davide Oldani: bloody explorations, by Gabriele Zanatta and Premio 20 anni, lezione appassionante: dilaga la Bros-mania, by Alda Fantin.

LA SALA  - «Paolo Lopriore was great. He often elaborates new visions that not everyone immediately understands. Giving attention to the connection between kitchen, dining room and client means presenting a strong and complete approach. The Nordic model, as in the case of Redzepi, implies that chefs themselves serve the dish: it’s a nice gesture, but if the waiter structurally connected with the chef does it, it’s the same. Paolo makes only one mistake: there’s a fourth element, the cellar. He’s the first not to neglect it, today: the wines he offers are never banal (see: Rivoluzione Lopriore, dal triangolo ristorativo alla... pera, by Raffaele Foglia). The debate on dining room service promoted by Cantine Ferrari was also interesting». See also: Three words for the perfect dining room: humility, passion, dream, by Sonia Gioia.

PASTA AND PIZZA - «At Identità 2017 pasta proved to be more versatile than pizza. Pizzaioli have grown a lot in the past few years, but some of them seem stuck to the disc of bread, a sort of bottleneck that induces them to look for new interpretations for toppings, without ever questioning the structure as a whole. Yet there’s still much to be said and done: as shown by Massimiliano Alajmo, who started from a work he presented at Identità in 2013, offering some original input (see:  Max Alajmo’s steamed pizza, by Andrea Cuomo)». See also: Spaghetti senza confini, by Mariella Caruso and Tania Mauri, and Lode alla pizza democratica, by Tania Mauri).

Paolo Marchi with his wife Luisa Acciarri

Paolo Marchi with his wife Luisa Acciarri

OTHER-WORLDLY THINGS - «For some they were unknown objects, yet the lessons by Kobus van der Merwe and Mariana Müller conveyed the desire for quality and nature in an other-worldly cuisine». See: Il selvaggio Sudafrica di Kobus van der Merwe, by Raffaele Foglia, and Mariana Müller e la carica degli argentini, by Gabriele Zanatta.

NIKO ROMITO - «Niko presented a beautiful project: it is very inspiring to see a great chef like him who thinks of creating complete menus with a food cost of less than two euros. A new frontier». See: Romito, travelling from Reale to a hospital canteen, by Gabriele Zanatta.

YOUNG CHEFS - «Some enjoy describing the new generation of Italian chefs as paying more attention to social media than to cooking. Our new section dedicated to them showed this is not true. They are much, much more serious than how they’re sometimes depicted. They are talented and this is why their lessons were very popular».

EAST LOMBARDY - «It was nice to see over 100 chefs participating in East Lombardy on the stage, when the starred restaurants in the area are little over twenty. You realise the latter are not detached from the rest of the restaurant scene. The strength of a territory is in putting together different yet neighbouring entities». See: The strength of East Lombardy, di Alda Fantin.

ANGEL LEÓN - «I’ll finish with Angel León and his play on fluorescence: it was moving. It reminded me of one of the most touching moments in the history of Identità Milano, in 2008. Heston Blumenthal participated in the congress with a recipe that looked like a magic formula called Sea noise and then with an inspiring Christmas Lunch. At the end of the lesson we were all crying. León did something similar. He dives into the waves to capture their light, that is to say dream, soul. Extraordinary».
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


SEE ALSOIdentità Milano: big numbers and new frontiers, by Carlo Passera


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(Photo Brambilla-Serrani)
Cristina Bowerman and Enrico Crippa
Carlo Cracco
Niko Romito
Major of Milano, Beppe Sala, with Cesare Battisti
Minister Maurizio Martina
Moreno Cedroni
Christian Milone, Andrea Aprea, Claudio Sadler
Andrea Berton