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Tuscany according to Gelinaz

All of a sudden, the band of cooks arrived in Mugello for the celebrations in Villa Panna


Part of the team of cooks who last Tuesday gave life to a mini-edition of Gelinaz in Villa Panna, the historic headquarters of Acqua Panna’s plants in Scarperia del Mugello (Florence). Left to right, Agata Felluga of Jour de Fête in Strasbourg, Inaki Aizpitarte of Chateaubriand in Paris, Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese in New York and San Francisco, Petter Nilsson of the Spritmuseum in Stockholm and Kobe Desramaults of In De Wulf in the Flanders. The gig was conceived by Clément Vachon of Sanpellegrino and Gelinaz's Andrea Petrini (photo credits Gabriele Stab)

Hardly a spiritual retreat. It is a known fact that the chefs of Gelinaz prefer pagan feasts, food celebrations and the can-can of improvisation to asceticism. The last act of the temporary band of cooks that was created by Andrea Petrini in 2007 (we already reported their appearance in Gent in Belgium) was performed last Tuesday in Villa Panna, the historic headquarters of the Acqua Panna plants, on the occasion of the celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the estate (on July 15th 1564 an official edict indicated the borders of one of the game reserves owned by the De Medici family in Scarperia and since then the estate was left untouched and is still a nature reserve).

Flemish chef Kobe Desramaults together with tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini

Flemish chef Kobe Desramaults together with tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini

The intention of the cooks from Gelinaz was in fact to create a mystical reunion, in order to decide, with a very serious approach, the performances for the next three years. However, the spree then prevailed and how could this not happen given the 13 chefs (Inaki Aizpitarte,Massimo BotturaDanny Bowien,Dario Cecchini, Mauro Colagreco, Kobe Desramaults, Agata Felluga, Rodolfo Guzman, Virgilio Martinez, Petter Nilsson, Fulvio Pierangelini, Ana Ros, Blaine Wetzel) who were called to express their vision through three of the most classic and local Tuscan recipes? Namely Pappa al pomodoro, Ribollita and Trippa alla fiorentina.

The result was a dinner with hardcore content – I mean, try to gulp some 5 dishes of tripe, one after the other, before and after a series of contaminated covers that included even pig’s blood with chocolate, or fried pig brains, with poor local butcher Cecchini from Panzano in Chianti who was ready to satisfy any weird last minute request, including a sudden «do you have some extra kilos of lardo in the back shop, by any chance?» made by Colagreco.

Among the guests at Villa Panna, there was also restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, who just celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Le Cirque in New York. Here he is with his son Mauro

Among the guests at Villa Panna, there was also restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, who just celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Le Cirque in New York. Here he is with his son Mauro

These recipes where written with an invisible ink on the music score of tradition after the reciprocal contaminations between these chefs who are first of all friends: «It was Kobe», Felluga explained at the beginning, «who taught me to cook pig’s blood. From Sicily,I learned to pair it with chocolate and tomato». These big pals also happen to create dishes after heuristic misunderstandings: the pappa al pomodoro conceived by Colagreco-Martinez-Guzman (Argentinian-Peruvian-Chilean) in fact was made with no tomato because the 3 amigos had understood papa instead of pappa and therefore the result was an interesting collection of potatoes from the Andes and the Mediterranean, yet sin tomate.

In this Babel of ingredients and mixed hands (ah the Ravioli with lovage and tripe by Ana Ros. And what a delight Desramaults’s bread was, used to mop up Blaine Wetzel’s sauce!) the dishes that stood out were most of all those fixed by Italian wrists: a traditional ribollita by Dario Cecchini, worth reproducing in buckets, for the good of humanity, the unutterable Ravioli with tripe by Fulvio Pierangelini («what should I explain?», the chef from San Vincenzo said as a comment to the self-evident deliciousness of his solution).

Bread, water and sugar, Massimo Bottura's dessert

Bread, water and sugar, Massimo Bottura's dessert

Finally, the sweet end to the performance of Gelinaz/Acqua Panna arrived with Massimo Bottura, a dish that gave the chef from Modena the pretext to communicate the approaching project at Refettorio Ambrosiano. «It’s called Bread, water and sugar», the chef concluded, «and it is the three things that most marked the childhood of each one of us. This dessert finely explains what a chef can do with nothing. That is to say a lot». The ice cream, delicious, was covered with a crispy layer of gold, to sublimate the absolute value of poverty. It was a perfect representation of the theme of Expo 2015, Feeding the planet. The subtitle: the power of creativity. The hidden weapon of each chef at Gelinaz.

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Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, he's been working as a co-author and coordinator of both Identità Web and Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook for the past 7 years
twitter @gabrielezanatt