Lido 84, a family. Every morning at 11, Skype call with the brigade

Riccardo Camanini tells us about these days of pause, reflection, discussion. «We’re immersed in a drama, but we must think of the future, together with my young staff»

03-04-2020
Riccardo Camanini, patron-chef at Lido 84 in Gar

Riccardo Camanini, patron-chef at Lido 84 in Gardone Riviera (Brescia). With his brother Giancarlo, every morning at 11 he calls the entire brigade on Skype, all at home, for three hours, so they can share ideas, hopes, outlooks, and projects for the future 

The daily cathartic moment, the ritual that almost purifies the mind – as if it were an apotropaic moment of reflection and sharing, exchange and community – is every morning at 11, since the first day of this damned emergency. «I’m lucky enough to live only a few steps from Lido 84. So I go to the restaurant and from there, together with my brother Giancarlo we connect via Skype with our brigade», 23 people scattered around north Italy, «many are in fact only a few metres away, because they stayed in the flats where they lived when we were open. Others have returned home, and call from there», hence Mantua, Milan, Piacenza, Bergamo, Modena... The virtual meeting point of these places far apart – connected by the common drama we’re all experiencing, as well as by their projects for the future – is Gardone Riviera, chez (and chef) Riccardo Camanini.

Lido 84 seen from the lake 

Lido 84 seen from the lake 

At Lido 84 one can find the typical relationship and organisational dynamics of an extended family that is coming to terms with these complicated weeks: meeting online, long distance discussions, helping one another. Riccardo speaks like a dad: «All my guys who have stayed here must not leave their homes. So we have planned for them to have their shopping delivered at home. We have plenty of suppliers: meat, fish, vegetables...». In turns, from time to time, and safely, one of us goes by himself to Lido to make tests in the kitchen, «for instance we’re making bread each day. They make the dough at home, bake it here, eat it and share it in the evening ».

Having the restaurant close by «is a great vent that allows us to keep a daily life that if not normal, because everything is different, it’s at least a way not to feel stuck, on halt». Refrigerators and freezers are working, there are necessary steps to tackle, as precious as ever. «We arrive here at 10, then there’s the Skype call with the guys. More or less three hours of confrontation, every day, from Monday to Saturday: we exchange ideas, work on projects, discuss the future. It’s a beautiful approach».

This photo was taken on the 31st of December with the staff 

This photo was taken on the 31st of December with the staff 

It gives the brigade a to do list that lightens up the boredom, puts aside the discomfort and fills the slow rhythms of the quarantine, so they can escape from the dark climate that is assaulting us. «We give them some tasks "to complete at home ". The group becomes stronger. We can also notice different developments in each one of them, because the approach in this case is more educational, the dynamics are different from usual». This is another reason why the group is serene: they have a common outcome ahead «and I’m glad the group is showing great civil and social responsibility with respect to the issues Italy is facing. Giancarlo and I are making an effort not to seem negative, we try not to convey worry». Which is not necessary, luckily: «In six years, we have managed to make sure that our business would grow, but with sound foundations. This helps to reassure, so the guys come up with ideas. We’re very aligned».

Riccardo and Giancarlo Camanini

Riccardo and Giancarlo Camanini

In their DNA, the Camanini brothers have a strong connection with this area on the border between Bergamo and Brescia, that is to say the two areas that are hit the hardest by Coronavirus. They are very reserved, they don’t want to expose themselves publicly these days. Riccardo explains: «As inhabitants of Lombardy, we’re experiencing the emergency in a more direct way. Not just the lockdown, not just the fear, not just the drama that enters the house through television, but also by knowing in person many people who have passed away, perhaps parents of friends and colleagues. This is why I have said little, and even less so on social networks. I don’t feel like making announcements or dare to make an analysis: not just because it’s soon, and it’s not our business, but also because we feel this is a delicate moment, that induces us to reflect, to be silent as a way of showing respect to those who are ill or have lost a dear one».

Camanini at Identità Golose

Camanini at Identità Golose

However, with the same respect, it is not a mistake to imagine the future. The basic idea is not to go back: «It’s not a question of discussing cuts or downsizing. If anything we try to give a correct interpretation of how social life will manifest itself in the future in a place like a restaurant», based on the fact that «people are social beings, and they will return to be so». The current drama «has touched our vulnerability, it has exposed it for the first time in our days. So there’s now a new tangible barrier. It’s hard to understand now how we will be after, when it will be over. In the meantime, we must make an effort to grasp the meaning of things, and in these days of pause we can do so: it’s almost a conquest, this time to think. A gift in the sadness».

 

«Food trains us to be with others, to understand others. It’s in society, in sharing an objective, that you can create the necessary strength so that the country can get back on its feet»

And then: «We discuss craftmanship. We will soften some aspects that can make people uneasy in future conviviality: there are things that were once adequate, and will seem out of place now. Aside from this, we hope that – for everyone – we can remain hopeful, and look ahead. We try to define an evolution that is more and more attentive to people. What I’m sure of is that we need to express ourselves. In fact, we need to start again to express ourselves». Even by making an effort to be optimistic, «because food trains us to be with others, to understand others. It’s in the society, in sharing an objective, that you can create the necessary strength so that the country can get back on its feet».

This is what Riccardo Camanini thinks. And in the meantime he keeps some books on his bedside table: Alberto Moravia’s La donna leopardoChristian Puglisi’s Relae. Un libro di idee and a book on kaiseki cuisine, and also Bartolomeo Scappi’s OperaPlinius the Old’s Naturalis historia... He smiles: «I’m a messy reader, I move from one book to the next». Because you must also think out of the box.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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