The days of Luca Sacchi

The rise of Carlo Cracco’s right arm. Expectations are high for the grand opening at the Galleria and for his lesson at Dossier Dessert

Luca Sacchi, born in Abbiategrasso, Milan, in 1986

Luca Sacchi, born in Abbiategrasso, Milan, in 1986. He arrived at Ristorante Cracco in May 2007, and became head pastry chef. In 2014 he became his sous chef. On Wednesday 21st February the long awaited first service at Cracco in Galleria. On Saturday 3rd March (at 3 pm) he’ll speak at Dossier Dessert at Identità Milano

«In May 2007, I was working at Caffè Scala, a banqueting firm in Milan. My colleague Iacopo [Zambarbieri, who collaborates with Identità Golose] told me Cracco was looking for a pastry chef. At the time I had never heard of him. I accepted. When I first began, I had two guys above me. One week later, the first left. One month later, the second left, mid-service. In the end, I only had Matteo Baronetto above me. I was scared like crazy».

This is the most important sliding door for Luca Sacchi, who, a decade or so later, is now the sous chef at Cracco in Galleria, the most awaited opening of the year, scheduled on the 21st February. We already know the place: there will be a café and pastry shop on the ground floor, a staff laboratory on the mezzanine floor, a winebar in the basement, a gourmet restaurant on the first floor and a private event area on the second one. Until now, however, we knew little of the team members.

We called Sacchi on the phone and heard drilling in the background: «Men are still at work, but we’re almost ready. We’re very happy of the team we assembled, some 70 people. Marco Pedron, 34, and a long experience with Luigi Biasetto, will run the pastry workshop. I know him very well, we’re very close. We share everything. We’ll make brioches, colombe, chocolate… The winebar manager is Alex Bartoli, who worked at Pinchiorri for many years. He’s obsessed with wines. In the dining room, we’ll have Alessandro Troccoli back from Moscow».

And then there will be Luca, the on-site director of all the kitchens: «I was the first to visit Galleria, even before the call for bids was opened. Carlo would draw too much attention. We are very close. I feel I owe him so much for all he’s done for cooking and for me. He deserves the best. It will take some time, but in the end he’ll get what he deserves».

With Cracco in front of the building site at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

With Cracco in front of the building site at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

Burnt chocolate and boiled parsley, Sacchi’s most famous dessert

Burnt chocolate and boiled parsley, Sacchi’s most famous dessert

For sure, this young man from Abbiategrasso has plenty of patience. Not yet 32, he’s already spent an incredible amount of hours with a stove or a planetary mixer under his nose, «I’ve often worked 20 hours, went to sleep and then back to work. I like giving all of myself until I collapse». Strangely enough, this passion exploded in the mountains: «I didn’t want to attend catering school in Milan. I hadn’t heard great things about them. I chose a school in Ponte di Legno, in Val Camonica. I learnt a lot».

With the piece of paper in his pocket, in 2001 he immediately started in a prestigious restaurant, Antica Osteria del Ponte, also known as “La Cassinetta”, with Ezio Santin, 3 Michelin stars between 1990 and 1997.  «I was a factotum, errand boy. Michele Abbatemarco was also there. He now works as pastry-chef with Troigros. I enjoyed myself». From the fog near home, to the year spent in Sardinia: «I worked in a pastry-shop in Castelcervo. That’s where I met Gianni Griseri. He’s the greatest professional I’ve ever seen. He was doing banquets in Saudi Arabia, state-of-the-art ice sculptures. He was a François Vatel from Piedmont, married to a SardinianThose were 3 inspiring months». Ten more months at Cala di Volpe followed: «I was the last of 5 pastry-chefs».

At 20 he returned to Meridiana in Garlenda, in the inland of Savona. Trivia fact: even his future boss Cracco had worked there, years earlier. «At the time, Luigi Taglienti was in the kitchen [he now has one Michelin star at Lume in Milan]. It was my first post with responsibilities. We were just 4 in the kitchen. We did everything. I remember Sacripantine [a dome-shaped cake originally from Genoa], stuffed peaches from Albenga…».

Six months at Caffè Scala and then the first steps in Via Victor Hugo in Milan. «I won the initial terror thanks to Matteo Baronetto. We worked together for almost 7 years. We had a beautiful relationship. He made me grow a lot, helping me to become what I am now. He trained me in every aspect, except one: pastry-making rules. He didn’t follow them. In fact, he made new rules. I tend to second techniques, in order to reach a result. However, pastry-making is freedom: «I love it because steaks are always the same, you must pay attention not to ruin them. In a dessert, the person making it decides everything: shape, ingredients, textures, temperatures».

Luca Sacchi (first to the right) in the days when he was learning from Matteo Baronetto (third from the right)

Luca Sacchi (first to the right) in the days when he was learning from Matteo Baronetto (third from the right)

Selection of frozen fruit

Selection of frozen fruit

He’s so good, that in early 2014 Cracco asked him: «Would you feel like replacing Matteo?». Sacchi masked his tension, reminding himself that he had already felt at ease by the pass for a couple of seasons: «Of course, why should I worry? As they say, Firemen have no fear». So without hesitation he took the role of sous. A sous chef always works with seraphic calm and irony. And never loses sight of the sweet side: «I’ve always liked chocolate». But explored in an heterodox way, Cracco-style, as with Burnt chocolate and boiled parsle, perhaps his signature dish: «Provocations are fine, but never done just for the sake of it», he admonishes.

Frozen fruit is also emblematic of his work. The dessert has been in the menu for 6 years, hard to disappear. It’s made of sorbets and gelatos joined together in a dish that has a thousand seasonal takes. And what will you present at Dossier Dessert at Identità Milano? «An interesting and light lesson that can stimulate happiness. I need it at this incredible time in my life».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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