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03-11-2022

Ludovico Coccioli, cooking and working his way to the North Pole

Born in the Marche in 1996, after cutting his teeth in his region, he left Nostrano in Pesaro to go to Koks, 2 stars between the Faroe Islands, in Greenland in the summer, and now Copenhagen: «I wanted to measure myself against an extreme world where noth

The restaurant is called Koks, cooks. Two Michelin stars. The chef and patron is Poul Andrias Ziska, already on the Identità stage well before the pandemic, an itinerant talent today because from Torshavn, the capital  of the Faroe Islands, he first moved to Greenland for the spring and summer, the only two seasons that can be enjoyed by those not born in this immense Danish beanstalk between the polar circle and the North Pole, and then to Copenhagen, inside Tivoli. It’s almost a joke, moving from an empty territory, with less than 60,000 inhabitants, to one of the most celebrated amusement parks in the world.

Ludovico Coccioli, a 26-year-old chef from the Marche, joining the two-starred Koks in Greenland this summer

Ludovico Coccioli, a 26-year-old chef from the Marche, joining the two-starred Koks in Greenland this summer

Again, it is a pop-up restaurant waiting to return to the islands where it all started, which is expected in 2024 when the new location will be finished. And if I’m writing about it, it is not because I have just returned from a trip to the lands of the midnight sun and of the northern lights, but because between August and September I was captivated by the photo of an Italian chef, 26-year-old Ludovico Coccioli from the Marche (but I would discover this later), smiling amidst the ice, with white expanses fading into the horizon and rare wooden houses coloured like in fairy tales.

Souvenir photo for Ludovico Coccioli at Identità Gelato in Senigallia, September 2022

Souvenir photo for Ludovico Coccioli at Identità Gelato in Senigallia, September 2022

We are used to people leaving Italy for an internship in the Nordic countries or just to work there, but this case is much more pronounced. We are not in the Scandinavian capitals. We are talking about islands and (un)populated lands of a few thousand souls, where everything is difficult, apart from freezing because there is always someone who doesn’t get it and tries to act out.

Northern lights in Illimanaq in Greenland

Northern lights in Illimanaq in Greenland

Ludovico and I met in Senigallia because it was convenient for both of us. Here is his story, which can serve as an example since too many are looking for convenient solutions. «I am from Filottrano, a town near Ancona. I attended catering school in Loreto because of my cousin, Laura Paolosi, who at the time was working at the Boqueria market in Barcelona. Then at 18, I moved to Sofia. Surprised? In the Bulgarian capital, Leo Bianchi, a restaurant entrepreneur with several establishments, what with pizza and tradition, is all the rage. In January 2017 I returned, called by Walter Borsini, the chef at Fortino Napoleonico in Portonovo. It helped me to understand how to plan the work. The most up-to-date techniques come later. It's as if I asked for and got a bike. So now it was a question of pedalling, and to do it well and fast».

Koks, table with window

Koks, table with window

Lots of tradition, well-grounded feet, full and mouth-watering dishes as later at da Giacchetti, another restaurant in Portonovo, historic because it opened in 1959: «I would measure myself against innovation at Alessandro Rapisarda's since he opened in 2018 in Numana, also near Ancona. We’re still great friends. There I got to know gourmet cuisine for real, the attention to detail that brought me to Pesaro, to Stefano Ciotti at Nostrano. I was working with him when he came to cook at Identità Golose Milano.

Ludovico Caccioli with Poul Andrias Ziska, a chef who, after making the Faroe Islands a gastronomic destination, is now working in Greenland, with the same goal

Ludovico Caccioli with Poul Andrias Ziska, a chef who, after making the Faroe Islands a gastronomic destination, is now working in Greenland, with the same goal

Then at the beginning of the Twenties I was 24 and Covid exploded. In October 2020 I arrived at Nostrano with some doubts, I think legitimate. It was my first starred restaurant and at that level the highest attention to detail must be a constant. I was put on the first courses, fresh pasta, and the feeling soon emerged. In Italy you have to love pasta, otherwise what kind of cook are you?».

Still, from his Adriatic experience, Coccioli moved on to the Arctic seas: «I had been trying to join the brigade for three years. In a way, Covid helped, messing up every job.

The Koks brigade at the end of service in Greenland

The Koks brigade at the end of service in Greenland

My first experience was in Copenhagen, then in Greenland this year. You fly from Copenhagen to Ilulissat and from there you reach Illimanaq, with less than a hundred residents, all on the west coast. Koks is there to show that if you put your mind to it, if you try, you can do great things even where nothing else seems to exist».

Coccioli joined on the 12th of August and returned to Italy on holiday on the 9th of September. He’s now in Copenhagen: «An experience that leaves a mark, in a good way. Sun all the time, not even half an hour of half-light. It's either light or dark, six months after six months. Fifteen 15°C  maximum, it's basically cold but that doesn't stop anyone who would like to work there. We were two Italians, a Turk and an Estonian, plus of course some Danes, Swedes and Norwegians. Among ourselves we spoke English.

Koks until the 15th of November at the Tivoli, the Copenhagen amusement park

Koks until the 15th of November at the Tivoli, the Copenhagen amusement park

Only bilberry, some berries, seals and musk ox grow there and are hunted by the Inuit, one of the ethnic groups that populate the Arctic. If you decide to immerse yourself in that world, to measure yourself against the extreme, you can take a packet of spaghetti, garlic and oil with you, as in my case, but since it's about getting out of what we consider civilisation, you don't even have to think about it too much. Yes, at one point I said to myself "what am I doing here?", but by then I was on my way and I had to move forward». Once you roll the dice, there’s no turning back.

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
instagram instagram.com/oloapmarchi

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