IdentitÓ Milano 2018: The Human Factor

Paolo Marchi reveals and explains the main theme of the 2018 edition of the congress, on March 3-5

19-10-2017

Le foto sono di Brambilla-Serrani

Il Fattore Umano, The Human Factor: this is the theme, the leitmotif of Identità Golose 2018 in Milan, from Saturday the 3rd of March to Monday the 5th. In our days, it’s easier to set our eyes on a screen, rather than on someone’s face. These days too may things, at work and in our private lives, are connected with the Internet and cold and superficial relationships, where you’re always in haste and everything is reduced to selfies without depth. We’re all photographers so much so that people like dishes online because they look good while the important thing is that they must taste good.

This pressing depersonalization of relationships also transfers to restaurants, with a worrying homogenization even in fine dining, where authors have little to say. One can notice a spreading of dishes that imitate foreign cultures or the menus of VIP chefs. This has nothing to do with exchanging cultures and with contaminations, but with hiding one’s limits by decorating them with images stolen here and there. Instead of working hard so as to strengthen one’s strong points, we follow trends and whims, afraid not to ride the moment.

Take notice of this: until a couple of years ago, ceviche was almost unknown, now it pops up in every menu. This makes sense if we first of all learn everything that lies behind this quintessential Peruvian recipe. But who does so?

So the Human Factor focuses on human relations, on chefs as humans and on all those who surround their work, from kitchen to dining room, to the relationship with clients and before that with artisans and suppliers. The Internet, in its countless shapes, has allowed a sharing of knowledge, notes, techniques, recipes – something unimaginable only ten years ago. But there’s a but. Let’s put aside the decline of social relations, for once, respect as something rarer and rare to find, the widespread closure to those who are not on our side: what the Internet will never be able to offer is the human factor, the possibility of a face-to-face debate, a chat with the client, as well as suppliers and those working in your restaurant.

It’s time to move the attention to the dining occasion, to what happens around the table, the meeting point of different worlds, without neglecting the emotions offered food itself. If there’s something we can be sure of, it’s that even in ten years’ time we will not be able to buy conviviality online, never. Restaurants will remain one of the most important development centres for human relations.

If everything is available to everyone, if techniques, ideas and ingredients are no longer “secrets of the chef”, and in fact people rush to advertise them so as to highlight their authorship, what makes the difference? It is the human capacity to create relationships, respecting and urging each other to grow and improve, step by step. Patrons who can establish a direct and personal relationship with breeders, fishermen or farmers, cheese producers, designers or artists, will benefit from these relations because the people involved will have greater motivation as they take part in a global project, and are not just suppliers that must be paid and that’s it.

The same happens inside the restaurant. Intelligent and assertive chefs and patrons will avoid putting themselves on top of a golden tower so as to enlarge themselves and diminish those beside them. Chef and kitchen staff, sommeliers and waiters will feel they’re important and respected, and, after acknowledging this, they will work hard with a different spirit and care so as to focus on the pleasure of the dining guest.

Nobody will ever deny the driving strength of a leader, but we should no longer focus on chefs’ egoes. There’s no intention of questioning their role, the importance of those investing and setting guidelines, but in a society that will be, whether one likes it or not, increasingly multicultural and multi-ethnic, which includes conflicts and violence, the sooner we understand the strength of debate and respect, the sooner we will all be able to benefit from this.