A homage to Bombana, 12 stars on stage

Enrico Crippa, Ezio Santin and Francesco Cerea applaud the chef from Bergamo who’s making Italy great in Hong Kong

06-03-2017
by Sonia Gioia
Renata Fugazzi and Umberto Bombana. Identità Mil

Renata Fugazzi and Umberto Bombana. Identità Milano gave a prize to the 3-starred chef working in Hong Kong

22nd February 2012: in the Asia and Oceania section of Sole 24 Ore an article appears titled: “Lo chef Bombana superstar a Hong Kong, primo italiano a ottenere le tre stelle all'estero” [Chef Bombana superstar in Hong Kong, the first Italian to get three stars abroad]. But on the stage of Identità Milano, 5 years later, Umberto Bombana revealed the real international record: up to 75 kg of white truffle used in the last year. This is how you become number one in the world, deserving a special prize.

Paolo Marchi shows an old photo of Antica Osteria del Ponte, the iconic restaurant of the Santins, when Bombana was still working in their kitchen

Paolo Marchi shows an old photo of Antica Osteria del Ponte, the iconic restaurant of the Santins, when Bombana was still working in their kitchen

A stage full of fine dining giants met in the auditorium to pay a tribute to the legendary Bombana of Otto e mezzo in Honk Kong. Born in Clusone, Bergamo, he recently got a lifetime achievement award from the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2017. The chef was celebrated by equally gigantic colleagues like Ezio Santin and Enrico Crippa, as well as Francesco Cerea, the dining room man at Da Vittorio. That is to say the spotlights were shining over 12 Michelin stars.

First to speak was his master. A bundle of memories in the emotional voice of Ezio’s wife, Renata Fugazzi, who said: «Umberto was my pet. The son in a family of five children, he clearly needed love. I played that role without any effort. This was also because Ezio was terrible. I protected him like I did with the other 4-5 kids who together with Umberto were and are my pride and joy».

Bombana with Enrico Crippa

Bombana with Enrico Crippa

Big Umberto was 17 at the time and had plenty to learn. But early signs of the future to come, according to the Santins were already visible, at least in terms of stubbornness and spirit of sacrifice.

Francesco Cerea, the dining room man at Da Vittorio, went on the stage set for the homage to Bombana presenting a different story of family, sacrifices and stars that was born in the area of Bergamo.

Paolo Marchi, Francesco Cerea, Ezio Santin, Umberto Bombana, Enrico Crippa

Paolo Marchi, Francesco Cerea, Ezio Santin, Umberto Bombana, Enrico Crippa

Enrico Crippa completed the picture. With Bombana he shares an omnipotent passion, in fact a devotion, for truffle. Only two months ago Crippa went to China for an event, ready to strike the Asian audience with a Cream of potato with quail egg marinated in Lapsang tea and white truffle from Alba. «I had everything with me, except for the tea. Bombana came to my help». Of course the dish the master from Piazza Duomo prepared as a tribute to Umberto was the very same. «He’s a boss – said Crippa - C'est un chef», three definitive words. A representation of brotherhood and gratitude.

The same the guests sitting at Bombana’s table experienced when they discovered the gold of the Langhe on the other side of the world. «Truffle opens your mind, your heart, your joy», take Big Umberto’s word for it.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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