Restaurant rhymes with team

Niko Romito, Bottura and the dining room masters insist: cooking is a team sport

10-02-2014
Massimo Bottura and the six young women working at

Massimo Bottura and the six young women working at Osteria Francescana in Modena: Sara, Virginia, Jessica, Mineko, Alessandra and Laura, each one of them with a dish she herself has created. The concept that has often resounded in the Auditorium hall this morning was the following: team counts more than ego (photo credits Brambilla Serrani, translation by Slawka Scarso)

There was a tempest of neuronal ganglia, a seismic swarm of neurons in the main auditorium hall on Monday morning, during the tenth edition of Identità Golose, dedicated to intelligence. Paraphrasing Tolstoj, all idiots are similar to each other, while a person with common sense is an idiot in his own special way. The intelligence of silence is represented by Niko Romito of Reale in Castel di Sangro – the more it grows, the more it becomes essential. Dishes speak for themselves. He presents them through dry videos and almost metaphysical elements, a teamwork made with essential flavours, played on four bases that become a multiplier of mnemonic sensations. Cooking, indeed – Niko is convinced of this and we agree with him – is memory. Scampi become tagliatelle, the filling of a raviolo, in a play of mirroring.

Niko Romito, chef of Reale in Castel di Sangro (L'Aquila), metaphysical paths

Niko Romito, chef of Reale in Castel di Sangro (L'Aquila), metaphysical paths

The artichoke is sublimed and paired with a salted codfish that has been marinated in extra virgin olive oil for seven days, to give structure to a risotto, and it becomes absolute, as if in a roasted essence. The sea bass is paired with spaghetti, it introduces itself in a geometrical tortello and ends up in the oven, with an olive leaf. Finally there’s the almond, which ends up in a tortellino and with beef. Niko also receives the Grana Padano prize for the best dish of the year thanks to his Sweetbreads with lemon-cream and salt. Intelligence of attention is that represented by three members of Noi di Sala, the association that unites the different roles that work in the restaurant without being chefs: Giuseppe Palmieri, sommelier at Osteria Francescana in Modena, Alessandro Pipero, patron and sommelier of Pipero al Rex in Rome and Marco Reitano, sommelier at Rome Cavalieri’s La Pergola in Rome.

Beppe Palmieri, Alessandro Pipero, Marco Reitano, mastermaitres. On the screen behind, Oscar Farinetti

Beppe Palmieri, Alessandro Pipero, Marco Reitano, mastermaitres. On the screen behind, Oscar Farinetti

The arrival of this trio on the main stage of IG recalls the second-fiddle that ends up winning the Tour, the extra in a movie, awarded with an Academy Award. An unusually nervous Pipero (“I usually serve 30 people, today you’re in hundreds”), raises his head up by saying: “In football, fullback and centre-forward have the same job, they’re both footballers. Why is it so that chef, waiter and sommelier need to be considered as different jobs when even in their case, their only objective is to make their team win?”. Finally, two more protagonists get on stage, namely Oscar Farinetti (“thanks for the atmosphere that you’re capable of creating”) and Massimo Bottura (who quotes Michel Guérard: “A bad cuisine makes 100% of the experience, a good one makes only 48%, because the remaining 52 is given by something else”).

Democratic intelligence is that of Rodrigo Oliveira of Mocotò in Sao Paulo in Brazil. The physique of a Brazilian fullback, the face of an actor, in his restaurant in the Brazilian gastronomic capital but outside the stylish routes, he follows a road based on luxury. Luxury? Indeed, but only the luxury of simplicity: at his restaurant you cannot make reservations and a rich person eats next to a poor one dishes made with Franciscan and ancestral ingredients. Such as tapioca, using which, on the stage, he creates a pancake with only a few ancient and mystical gestures. He then develops this concept by mixing some tapioca flour with Barbera wine and cheese in his Vinioca (instant name). Then there’s a tribute to Paolo Marchi, with Pork served with beans and then herbs and traditional cereals.

Rodrigo Oliveira, from Brazil with love

Rodrigo Oliveira, from Brazil with love

An intelligence focused on passion is finally that illustrated by Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena. He holds the audience captive with a census of his emotions, with a video illustrating his philosophy (a word which, for once, is no babbling) and with a linear Mullet in Livorno style that holds inside a scampo to add sweetness. The female sweetness is that in which a particularly creative Bottura hides with a parade of six young women who work in his restaurant (Sara, Virginia, Jessica, Mineko, Alessandra e Laura) each one of whom holds a dish she has herself created. Because team counts more than the ego, no matter how bulky this may be.