Guinea fowl, duck, hare... The perfect game according to Antonio Guida and Alessandro Martellini

Respectful supply chains and no prejudice, «it's a mistake to always focus on strong flavours, which can be sometimes "tired" because of the long ageing». The chef from Seta in Milan and the one from Tyrol in Val Gardena tell us how to use game for a gour

05-03-2022
by Mariella Caruso
Left to right, Alessandro Martellini and Antonio

Left to right, Alessandro Martellini and Antonio Guida. The former arrived as an intern at Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole a few years ago, and discovered in Guida a crucial teacher

Disclaimer. The story below is not for everyone. Because game is not for everyone. It was however the protagonist of a four-handed dinner that had us travel to Selva di Val Gardena, and of an enlightening chat with Antonio Guida, chef at Seta del Mandarin Oriental in Milan, his executive sous chef Federico Dell’Omarino, e the chef of Suinsom dell’Hotel TyrolAlessandro Martellini.

The fact this story is not for everyone has to do with the very respectable ethical issues that are connected with hunting. We're not talking of poaching, but of supplies that come from sources that are respectful of quality and health control, finding in this their strength. The diriment issue is that of the prejudice that has game, says Guida, «as a meat with strong, pungent flavours, often "tired" because of the long ageing».

Partridge (breast, foam of potatoes, spinach, black truffle), Alessandro Martellini

Partridge (breast, foam of potatoes, spinach, black truffle), Alessandro Martellini

This couldn't be more wrong! «There are game dishes like Terrine of duck and guinea fowl, Vadouvan and Périgord Sauce that are very delicate», says the chef from Seta who included this dish in a dinner titled Passione di cacciagione [Passion for game], 7 courses served in the perfect setting of the Suinsom and paired with wines chosen by sommelier Marika Rossi. The difference between one game dish and the other, says Guida, lies «in the chefs' skills. They must know how to soften this meat with the right marinade, enhancing the use of spices, choosing a respectful cooking procedure».

Terrine of duck and guinea fowl, Vadouvan and Périgord Sauce, Antonio Guida

Terrine of duck and guinea fowl, Vadouvan and Périgord Sauce, Antonio Guida

A road, that of enhancing game in restaurants, that Guida and Martellini (who met Guida as a young intern at Il Pellicano where he arrived when he was still studying in catering school) have followed in a four-handed dinner that made for another leg of the only external partnership of Antonio Guida, who still believes he's “the kitchen dad” of that intern who in the meantime became a man and a chef.

Cannellone made with chestnut flour, wild rabbit, scorzonera truffle, green pepper sauce, black truffle, Antonio Guida

Cannellone made with chestnut flour, wild rabbit, scorzonera truffle, green pepper sauce, black truffleAntonio Guida

«Italians are rediscovering game and are gradually abandoning their fear of this type of meat which is in fact more sustainable as these animals live in the wilderness, and because this meat is lean as these animals are always moving  and hence have very little fat», agree Guida and Martellini, who is also an expert hunter and fisherman.

Pink duck, beurre blanc, sconcigli, turnip tops, Alessandro Martellini

Pink duck, beurre blanc, sconcigli, turnip topsAlessandro Martellini

What is the perfect game meat? «The one that arrives already aged and, when we're talking about birds, still with its feathers. But even if you have the best game meat, you won't be able to obtain something good unless you have the necessary technical skills. The secret is not hidden in the cooking procedure which must be suitable for the type of cooking (for instance, ducks must stay pink; woodcocks and wood pigeons must be overcooked), but is mostly based on the marinade», says the chef from Seta who in his restaurant offers a game menu from November to January.

Hare à la Royale, Antonio Guida

Hare à la RoyaleAntonio Guida

«We have many guests now coming for our game menu», Guida admits. He always ends his tasting menu with Hare à la Royale, a historic dish signed in 1775 by Marie-Antoine Carême. This dish also ended the dinner at Tyrol, right after an excellent Duck served pink with beurre blanc, sconcigli and turnip tops signed by Martellini, who will meet again his “dad” Antonio Guida at Suinson dell'Hotel Tyrol at the end of March.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso