Phenomenology of Davide Caranchini, who will talk at Identità Vegetali, within Identità Milano 2024

The chef of Materia in Cernobbio (Como) debuts at the congress by recounting his green soul at the Identità Vegetali section on Monday 11th of March. He is a hard worker who doesn’t like simple things. Or compromises

Davide Caranchini, chef at Materia in Cernobbio (C

Davide Caranchini, chef at Materia in Cernobbio (Como) will talk at Identità Vegetali at Identità Milano 2024, on Monday 11th March at 11 a.m. in the Sala Blu2 of MiCo in Milan, the venue of the congress

The debut on this website of the then unknown young man took place in December 2014. He was very young but not inexperienced: Davide Caranchini, born in Como in 1990, was at his first experience as a chef - at restaurant Acquadolce in Carate Urio (Como) - and had entered a food-beer pairing competition (without winning). We reported on his dish, Agnolotti stuffed with salmon and crab on a coriander and mirin purée with beer sauce, which with hindsight was already very mature. La Provincia, his hometown newspaper, in turn ran the story with a pretty good headline, we don't know if it was an exuberance of the headline writer's or of the subject’s: 'I, a 23-year-old chef, will conquer the world'.

In short, Caranchini has never lacked character and ambition; he has always had that top-of-the-class air that, unless you tasted his dishes, even just the early ones, you’d think: 'Who does he think he is? Then after tasting them, you realise that he can afford it, he is a predestined man dripping with talent. But he wasn’t one of those guys who maybe have, like him, the numbers to explode, they know it, but start to love themselves too much, to mirror themselves all the time: no, Caranchini has always been a hard worker, he has done his apprenticeship (from Gordon Ramsay at Maze, to Le Gavroche at Michel Roux Jr and at the Apsleys in London with Heinz Beck, an internship at Noma in Copenhagen and a brief interlude at Enoteca Pinchiorri), and then - even more significantly - he did not try to slip into some megagalactic, metropolitan project where he would become a star chef. He did not choose the easy way: he remained faithful to his own territory, which today has become a gourmet destination, but was ignored by everyone at the time. First, he moved to Casa Santo Stefano in Cernobbio; then, in 2016, he opened Materia, in the same lakeside town, a small restaurant that to call it minimalist is an understatement: an anonymous place, small tables, narrow spaces, that makes one always wonder how the service, led by Ambra Sberna in the mood for miracles, does not collapse. But Caranchini was (and is) fine with it: he is also the patron there, so he doesn't have to compromise. As if to say: I want to propose my cuisine, if you want me I'm here.

Davide Caranchini, Chef of the Year for the 2023 Identità Golose Guide, signs the souvenir picture from the awards ceremony on Monday 27 March 2023 in Milan. Photo Brambilla-Serrani

Davide Caranchini, Chef of the Year for the 2023 Identità Golose Guide, signs the souvenir picture from the awards ceremony on Monday 27 March 2023 in Milan. Photo Brambilla-Serrani

We want him, because he is very good, his table is a cornucopia of ideas between the brilliant and just the fantastic when it is minor stuff. He stands on solid pillars, he also explained this in 2021 at two international congresses, one in Madrid (he was presented as 'one of the chefs who are most effectively innovating Italian cuisine': yes, the Spaniards are always one step ahead of us) and the other in Bogotà, on which occasion the writer was also there, intent on dodging the pitfalls of Covid: contamination of ideas, first of all, hence the exchange with other cultures; then sensitivity, putting hands and heart into one’s actions; and thought, i.e. avant-garde is not a question of technique, but of ideas. With some corollaries: not to focus too much on the aesthetic beauty of the dish, because the perception of beauty is conditioned by the historical moment; to feel free to propose even products that are not usual for the context, who cares, as long as the taste wins; and to play with an apparent simplicity that hides the concentration of flavours without compromise.

Theorisations that become daily practice at Materia. The lake is there, but he sometimes turns his back to it to see what he finds in the mountains behind or in the countryside. He has increasingly structured his own personal, identifying, original dimension, authentic because it is the daughter of the place where he was born and works. 'Too often I was associated with Noma, 'you do that cooking' and it wasn't true, I felt like I was being put in a box within which to operate. Now I feel freer, my style has not changed, it retains its characteristics, the bitter note, the acidity.... But I think it has evolved into a more elegant, less brutal way. We even put tablecloths on!.”

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera

Carlo Passera


Carlo Passera

journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief

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