Intelligent pride: guiding beyond images

Paolo Marchi’s introduction to the 2019 Guida Identità Golose, presented on Monday morning in Milan

06-12-2018

The Guida Identità Golose 2019 is available online as of Monday 

This year, at Identità Golose, we’re going to cross two borders we’ve never considered neither straightjackets nor goals to reach. To us, they’re reasons to be satisfied: the first, is that for the first time the congress in Milan will not take place in the winter, but in the spring. On top of that, the guide now has over 1000 reviews, 1027 to be precise, of which 210 are places reviewed for the first time.

We’re very happy of this because to us it’s a proof of dynamism, of openness, of knowing how to understand where excellence is, without any crystallization. Some believe coherence is a virtue of obtuse people. Sometimes this may be the case. There’s no point in holding onto a position even when everything else around you is changing. It can lead to isolation, to unproductiveness. And now Identità 2019, as usual at the congress centre in Via Gattamelata, will open two months precisely after its debut: from January 23rd-25th in 2005 to March 23rd-25th in 2019. This was not on purpose, but it is true that because we’re growing every year, we have an increasing number of events and projects to manage and our schedule is as rich as ever and needs to be adjusted so that we can always offer new and current content.

The Identità Milano 2018 congress. The next edition, the 15th, will be on March 23rd-25th 

The Identità Milano 2018 congress. The next edition, the 15th, will be on March 23rd-25th 

The same goes for the guide. We already said last year how moving to an online version has freed us of the cage given by a printed book. Pages had become a prison. And we’re surprised that our prominent colleagues still live in the past. The Internet, and the information channelled through it, have made reviews and guides faster and have changed the industry. It is very true that whether an editorial staff is credible and works well has nothing to do with being printed online or in press. What matters is the content. But people have to read that content. And how many people are there still reading a book and flicking through the pages, stopping where they want?

And please note that we have over one thousand reviews because the editorial staff at Identità Golose has understood this new means of communication, its timing and its rules. Projecting oneself into the future, and becoming acquainted with new things is never easy. Especially when what you’re breaking has been given for granted for many years. Even restaurant patrons are changing their mentality. In some case they’re right. In some, less so.

Paolo Marchi

Paolo Marchi

Of course, the Internet is winning. It is impossible to predict when and what will question its status. We can imagine that in ten years’ time we will no longer have computers as solid products that we can hold in our hands, but just info transmitted through images projected on an ideal screen in the air. While we wait for a new momentous revolution, the present has chefs and patrons changing the way they approach media and critics. There’s a new category of clients. Those who book their table through an online platform are seen as regulars, even when it’s their first visit. This because chefs are starting to understand that services like The Fork are good for them, and far beyond managing confirmations and cancellations.

A person who reserved online, could leave a content, which is even easier since it’s the platform itself that prompts this action. This does not mean we should neglect those who still reserve a table on the phone, but there’s a growing connection between worlds we used to consider separate. Restaurateurs must take this into account and act consequently. They must also understand that having a real time reaction can only do them good. Those who criticise openly are much better than those who disappear and then will complain while hidden behind an online alias.

The Identità Golose Milano website, the first International Hub of Gastronomy, was born in September. You can reserve a table for lunch or dinner via The Fork

The Identità Golose Milano website, the first International Hub of Gastronomy, was born in September. You can reserve a table for lunch or dinner via The Fork

But there’s more. And I’m not happy about it. Menus once often said that photographing the dishes was not allowed. It’s understandable: in the kitchen, they take care of every detail of a recipe, but photos were often bad and so it happened that there were photos that didn’t do justice to the chef and his work. This is less and less common, luckily. Now, thanks to smartphones and programmes that make them work almost like authentic cameras, one has to work hard to take a bad photo. Chefs have understood this and, unfortunately, in my opinion, you’re starting to notice dishes that seem to be made for Instagram. Beauty is becoming as important as flavour and who knows how often ingredients are or will be chosen because “they look good in a picture". Taste risks being relegated to the background. After all, how does taste work, when many bloggers and the media only visit a place through its website?

The purpose of a guide like ours is to urge enthusiasts to go beyond images. We’re becoming a people of either chefs or photographers. However, the Italian restaurant scene keeps on growing in terms of quality and range. Even though everyone holds tradition dear, referring to endless personal memories, in fact the truth is different. At Identità we’ve noticed a constant movement, perhaps a slow one but every restaurant has introduced some new note.

Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni

Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni

And there’s an intelligent pride growing. We’re increasingly aware that we’re not the only country in the world with good food and we’re more open to confrontation. Perhaps just to be even more sure of our cuisine. However, there’s less and less words spent just for the sake of holding onto old stereotypes. Some day we will also realise the time has come to give a good definition of high-quality cuisine, from sandwiches to a comprehensive experience, via pizza and a single-dish menu at lunchtime. Without having to count for ever on a red guide that cannot ignore us, but won’t enhance our qualities either. To put it simply: why are sushi bars considered fine dining, worthy of awards, while our pizzerias are a "disgrace" in the Michelin firmament?

Yet this is the introduction to a guide, so a big thank you goes to the people without whom nothing would have been possible. To Claudio Ceroni, my partner since the beginning, a person who shares my same love for new boundaries and innovation. To Gabriele Zanatta, the inexhaustible engine of the guide. To Cinzia Benzi who masterfully manages the commercial relations together with Alessandra Piazzoni and thus supports all of our ambitions. To Giulia Corradetti, my guardian angel, and Carlo Passera and Niccolò Vecchia, who run the Identità Golose website and have the guide at heart too.

I’d like to thank each one of the 99 collaborators who have contributed in the 2019 Guide. Thanks to those who took on the shadier work, like copyediting or the fact checking 1,024 reviews: first of all Chiara Nicolini, whose importance is growing evermore and Giulia Monti. I’d like to Language Consulting Congressi for the translations and a thank you as big as a rainbow also goes to those who took on an unimaginable amount of work: Elia Bogani and Manuel Crippa. They took care of the design and technical project. These two guys have an infinite patience: they’ve listened to every question I’ve asked without ever rolling their eyes, they worked hard like everyone who collaborates, in different ways, in Identità’s projects.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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