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10-10-2022

Fabio Fazio, like Willi Wonka, now has his own chocolate factory

The journalist saved Lavoratti in Varazze, the company he has loved since he was a child: «I acted from the heart, not for financial gain». The meeting with Assenza was decisive: «I was persuaded by Bottura, Corrado is the best pastry chef in the world».

A great Ligurian story, also rich with notes from Milan, fundamental Sicilian contributions and a spark from Emilia, from Modena to be precise, because when Fabio Fazio, who is many fine things but certainly not a craftsman of taste, took over an old, exhausted chocolate factory in Varazze, Lavoratti, he was immediately faced with a huge question: who do I turn to for the selection of raw materials and a completely new recipe?

Souvenir photo for the three partners in the new Lavoratti. Left to right: Fabio Fazio, Corrado Assenza and Davide Petrini

Souvenir photo for the three partners in the new Lavoratti. Left to right: Fabio Fazio, Corrado Assenza and Davide Petrini

A first response came from Carlo Cracco, the definitive one from Massimo Bottura: Corrado Assenza, soul of the Caffè Sicilia in Noto in the province of Siracusa «Nobody is as good as him». Three men at the helm, because with the presenter and the pastry chef, one must remember Davide Petrini, the third partner, long at the helm in Varazze of a remarkably large fish farm, Il pesce pazzo, something like two fishing boats, a restaurant seating over 200 people and sixteen employees. But he is also an entrepreneur who from scratch, in 2020, when the pandemic broke out, created a mask factory by purchasing the machinery in China.

Fabio Fazio grappling on screen with Lucio Fontana's crocodile

Fabio Fazio grappling on screen with Lucio Fontana's crocodile

Memories and projects related to a newfound reality linked to the world of cocoa and chocolate are more exciting. Think of something that perfumed your childhood, impossible to forget, it will accompany you for a lifetime. Lavoratti, which dates back to 1938, was that for Fabio Fazio, born in 1964 in Savona, a town a handful of kilometres from Varazze, where his father and grandparents come from. «My Easter egg was Lavoratti's, as it was for everyone along the Riviera. I remember its scent very well, also because my grandparents used to smell it. When it became known that the company was close to closure, Davide and I had no doubts and took it over».

Lucio Fontana: Crocodile. The original, in Albissola in the province of Savona

Lucio Fontana: Crocodile. The original, in Albissola in the province of Savona

The heart won, that of these novel Willy Wonkas now struggling with their chocolate factory: «All instinct. We have no experience in this field, had we decided to save a submarine factory it would have been the same thing. It is not enough to consume chocolate to know it, but memory has turned out to be like a sixth sense and is taking us far. One certainty: we didn't do it for money, for a concrete profit, but to give back to the community a memory shared by all».

Carlo Cracco and Corrado Assenza in the former's restaurant in Portofino on the Ligurian Riviera di Levante

Carlo Cracco and Corrado Assenza in the former's restaurant in Portofino on the Ligurian Riviera di Levante

An imperative, which cocoa to use, and how to create a story that would go beyond the obvious doughnuts that Lavoratti used to sell on the beach some eighty years ago and Easter with grandpa and the surprise. Ask, enquire, try, discard this and set that aside, in the end the choice fell on Gustavo Marun, Ecuadorean, fourth generation, living in Sweden, who was also in Portofino in mid-September at the presentation of the project in Carlo Cracco's restaurant, when the risotto with anchovies and chocolate was so well thought out and executed that I asked for an encore.

Carlo Cracco's Anchovy and Cinque5 Terre lemon, chocolate and hazelnut risotto on the 15th September at the presentation of the new Lavoratti in Varazze in his restaurant in Portofino

Carlo Cracco's Anchovy and Cinque5 Terre lemon, chocolate and hazelnut risotto on the 15th September at the presentation of the new Lavoratti in Varazze in his restaurant in Portofino

Nine bars, no use of colouring agents, shapes of the chocolates that recall the Nautilus, the shell that turns back on itself, the chocolate books for next Christmas, having created a company in the parent company to produce its own natural fruit powder, one more entrepreneurial madness, but when you set out with the goal of the 'impossible' you cannot stop halfway. Assenza said: «We wanted to provide strong possibilities to our dreams». And for substance to be certain, in addition to the quality of raw materials such as pistachios from Bronte or Ecuadorian chocolate, the renunciation of certain fanaticism dear to those who adore fondants with very high percentages. Here we are at 60 or 64% depending on the product, tablet or cream.

Then an extraordinary chapter embracing the history of art and in some ways of Italy itself having Albissola, halfway between Savona and Varazze as the pivot. Fazio evoked the universe of ceramics and the Futurists, then Lucio Fontana and Bruno Munari, Emilio Scanavino and Piero Manzoni, so that we learnt, for example, that Merda d'artista was made in a certain bathing establishment, with several surprises to follow.

The rhino next to Carlo Cracco's restaurant in Portofino

The rhino next to Carlo Cracco's restaurant in Portofino

The new Lavoratti follows paths that link it to those who have produced art in Albissola, from the Futurist Egg and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's Metal Books, which will be on display again soon, to Lucio Fontana's life-size clay crocodiles, left out in the open in a private garden without any protection from the elements. Fazio's obvious question to the host: But a roof, a minimum of care? The answer: «I would like to know if art or weather wins». Some people can ask themselves this question and give themselves an answer using a page of art history.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Affari di Gola di Paolo Marchi

A mouth watering page, published every Sunday in Il Giornale from November 1999 to the autumn of 2010. Stories and personalities that continue to live in this website

by

Paolo Marchi

born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.
blog www.paolomarchi.it
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