IG2023: ladies and gentlemen, the revolution has been served


New protagonists at Identità Milano 2023: Quintero, Lazzarini, Pandolfo and the duet Devoto & Ferrandi

As of today we start presenting the speakers who will debut at the congress. We begin with the chefs from Poggio Rosso near Siena, Contrada Bricconi in Val Seriana, Cala Luna in Cefalù and Locanda de Banchieri/Officine del Gusto in Sarzana

From the top left corner, clockwise: Juan Camilo

From the top left corner, clockwise: Juan Camilo Quintero Merchan, Michele Lazzarini, Gianmarco FerrandiGiacomo Devoto and Dario Pandolfo

As of today we start presenting "the new protagonists" of Identità Milano 2023, that is to say the speakers who have been invited for the first time to give a talk during the 18th edition of the most important International congress of signature cuisine in Italy, and one of the most prestigious in the world, established in 2005 to give voice, visibility and to accompany the growth of Italian chefs, later widening to many "bordering districts", that is to say the worlds of pizza, pastry making, wine, mixology, fine products, hospitality and hôtellerie. The event will take place at MiCo in Milan, from Saturday 28th to Monday 30th January.

Content by Carlo Passera.




Poggio Rosso del Borgo San Felice in Castelnuovo Berardenga (Siena)
Identità Sud America, Saturday 28th January 12,30 pm, sala Blu 1

Many aim to match the Italian (perhaps regional) cuisine with the most diverse international culinary cultures; some manage, creating tasty and pleasant dishes; few are capable of really creating something harmonious and successfully accomplished; and even fewer reach excellence, creating an exalting sharing of concepts, flavours, aromas that multiplies its effect, in the classic formula where 2 plus 2 is 5.

It is in the latter very exclusive group that we place Juan Camilo Quintero.

Born in Bogotá, in Colombia in 1989, he arrives in Italy in 2010 to study at Pollenzo and appears to be predestined to a champion’s career. This because of the ease with which he solves culinary puzzles, that is to say the absolute mastery with which he places the little bricks of aroma that make the flavour architecture of the dish. With a further remarkable plus: not only does he handle with great ease the to-us well-known flavours of the Mediterranean, south European area, but also those of South America, which are familiar to him. He mixes together and… surprise! This results in clean, neat, rational and yet biting recipes, which only rarely show some flaw that is well understandable, given the degree of difficulty of the task. In this stage he takes full advantage of the presence of a giant like Enrico Bartolini as his “supervisor” at Poggio Rosso del Borgo San Felice in Castelnuovo Berardenga (Siena).

In 2019, Quintero had returned to his mother in New York after his first experience as chef, at Osteria Volpaia near Siena, where he had already stood out. «I received a few job offers, in Italy and abroad. Then one day the phone rang and it was someone who claimed to be Enrico Bartolini. At first I thought it was a misunderstanding. Then I understood and was flattered». Hyper-starred Enrico had taken over the helm of the culinary offer at Borgo San Felice, a beautiful Relais & Châteaux in Tuscany; as usual he was looking for a real talent to work with. Quintero accepted immediately: «We met at Mudec to define the details. I landed in Milan from the States and entered the restaurant pulling behind me my suitcase, I came straight from the airport without wasting a minute. He appreciated the gesture. And we immediately found an agreement».

Quintero is not an irritable creative mind that poses endless boundaries. He knows how to measure stronger flavours as well as nuances. He’s very good with first courses, which are marvellous, showing how a different approach to “Italian” pasta can start more easily when someone didn’t grow up eating it at home, and hence has an approach with less boundaries. And his Sweetbreads with angostura butter, marinated vegetables, tartare of beef with tonka beans, broth of toasted plantain peel – a memorable fusion of Italy and Latin America – are perhaps the best ever, for us.


Contrada Bricconi at Oltressenda Alta (Bergamo)
Identità di Pasta, Sunday 29th January 1,30 pm, sala Blu 1

«It’s a dream come true» Michele Lazzarini told us a while ago when announcing – back in March 2022 – that he would leave Val Badia after many years, to "go back home", that is to say to start a completely new adventure all ready to be shaped at Contrada Bricconi in Oltressenda Alta, in the province of Bergamo, in Valle Seriana, the area where he was born. We had titled our article with "Leaves 3 stars to cook in a farm in the mountains", read here, because this was the essence, and after all it also represented a sign of the times. In fact, it may seem like a paradox, but this was also the dream-come-true for someone else: Norbert Niederkofler who, in forming his Cook the mountain concept-ideology, had the aim not only of getting the locals involved, but also of developing a school of gastronomic thought that could, through his pupils, spread all over the peninsula, and perhaps even further, why not.

And so: the fact that Lazzarini – the niederkoflerian pupil par excellence, nine years spent beside the chef from South Tyrol – left but married a project that was fully in line with the philosophy of his maestro was in fact a small win even for Norbert.

Lazzarini is also the ideal interpreter – in terms of age and neatness of thoughts – to give continuity to Cook the mountain. Originally from the Bergamo region, he was born and raised in Gandellino, a 15-minute-drive from Oltressenda. He appears determined, humble, dedicated to work and silent like the people of the valleys near Bergamo. Still very young but with lots of experience, having already started a very bright career especially at St.Hubertus – of which in the recent years he was much more than an executive arm – and with internships and various experiences all around the world, «I was lucky enough to travel a lot and meet many great masters. Like Virgilio Martinez, who passed the love for the traditions of the Andes and for the research of Amazon products; or Rodolfo Guzman, who taught me how to cook the Patagonian lamb al palo; and Eneko Atxa for Basque culture; and then Magnus Nilsson for the wild cuisine of Northern Europe. And finally René Redzepi: going to his Noma was like entering Hogwarts».

Many stimuli and only one great point of reference - Norbert, of course – and clear ideas, «Cook the mountain is a cooking philosophy that we hope can inspire many young cooks to develop a sense of respect for nature, wherever they are», in other words a sort of appeal to the green generation, coming from him who was born in 1991 but has plenty of maturity (and talent).


Cala Luna de Le Calette in Cefalù (Palermo)
Identità di Pasta, Sunday 29th January 3 pm, sala Blu 1

Sometimes adversities are simply such; sometimes fate decides to bring good luck, and from manure – in the words of Faber – flowers are born.

So it happened that Dario Pandolfo, born in 1991 in Milazzo, back home from the holidays – he had been working for four years already at St. Hubertus with Norbert Niederkofler – got stuck in Sicily because of the first lockdown, in March 2020. Not to be idle, he contacted a local entrepreneur who was simply looking for someone who could make some good sandwiches for his hotel, in view of the summer season. He arrived without really presenting himself, that is to say without revealing that he was (though young) an accomplished professional, and working at a three-starred restaurant too. In any case, he got the job immediately. When the owner understood who he was working with, that is to say very soon, he handed him the entire kitchen. And so Pandolfo for the first time wore the toque of the head chef, at Ngonia Bay in his hometown Milazzo.

The anecdote is not just part of Pandolfo’s biography, but it is also a crucial part of his personality: the utmost humbleness with which he approaches not just his job, but life too. As for the latter, you never stop learning; and the former never reveals all its secrets easily, but one must say that Pandolfo had already acquired plenty of experience and before the famous establishment in Val Badia he had set foot in the equally prestigious kitchens of Geranium in Copenhagen, and two-starred Villa Joya in Albufeira in Portugal, and Terra in Val Sarentino. Now instead, as of the beginning of 2022, he’s at the helm of the culinary offer of Cala Luna, the fine dining restaurant of resort Le Calette in Cefalù.

What does he dish out? The offer is based on the region, his feelings and ideas. For sure it’s a representation of the chef’s origins and of the surrounding area; it’s sincere, true, without too many superstructures; it also meticulously interprets concepts that are truly important for a contemporary young chef, like no waste, attention to sustainability, the idea itself of a certain harmony with nature. Indeed, he handles the excellent ingredients available to him with huge respect.


Locanda de Banchieri in Fosdinovo (Massa Carrara) and Officine del Cibo in Sarzana (La Spezia)

At one point, Giacomo Devoto could have been luckier. He opened gourmet restaurant Locanda de Banchieri - in a nice countryside estate overlooking Val di Magra from a sort of natural terrace, with a view of the sea in the distance – on Saturday 7th March 2020. The following day the pandemic lockdown started. Hence destiny lengthened the time necessary for his definitive standing out. But Devoto held on tight and followed his road: after all, he is not afraid of challenges.

Born near Sarzana in 1981, he is a pupil of Angelo Paracucchi and of course this had to be the case given where we are: Fosdinovo, a village in Tuscany but on the border with Liguria, and Sarzana is only a stone’s throw away. And yet his training at Locanda dell’Angelo, between ‘98 and ’99, hence only a few years before the famous chef passed away, didn’t end in the best possible way: «His sous chef basically advised me to change career». Devoto however did not give up, and instead he changed area. In fact, he changed perspective: «Little over 20-years-old, I bought a lodge on the ski slopes of Champoluc, Belvedere, 2’400 metres in Val d’Aosta. It had 3 hectares of land, and every weekend around 14K people arrived with the cable car». He adapted his style, «I made very simple dishes, polenta and sausage, or burgers, 400 guests per day. Then, on special nights, I also offered a sort of fine dining».

The business was good, the mood less so. «In 2009 I realised I wasn’t very happy. My mum, an excellent gourmet [she’s Maria Candida Gentile, world renown Italian maître parfumier] suggested I stop, and tested with her some restaurant in Modena. I said no, I had too much work to do. She insisted again, three years later, in 2012. That’s when I dined at Massimo Bottura’s, and I cried».

Being used to a pop dimension of cuisine, he built his redemption in two steps. Locanda de Banchieri, with its fine dining offer, arrived later. First, he focused on the most pop food of all: pizza. In 2014 he opened Officine del Cibo in Sarzana: excellent pizza, dough studied in detail, attention to topping worthy of a chef. Here his right arm and alter ego with the dough is a great professional, Gianmarco Ferrandi, born in 1990 and from Sarzana. Of him, Devoto says: «He joins determination and stubbornness, precision and attention to detail. A perfect "team man", very passionate».

In both establishments, the two present the culinary – and hence cultural – identity of Lunezia, «which is part Liguria, part Tuscany and part Emilia too; it’s heart is in the Apennines and down to the sea». They do so in an intelligent and culinarily excellent way. Devoto and Ferrandi have a natural talent and the capacity of handling flavours that are much above average; they manage to give a strong contemporary approach in both fields, while respecting tradition. They know, in other words, how to be creative and build a complex and fascinating architecture with the bricks of flavour.



Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


IG2023: ladies and gentlemen, the revolution has been served

Identità Golose


Identità Golose

This article is curated by Identità Golose, the publication that organises the international fine dining congress, publishes website www.identitagolose.com and the online Guida Identità Golose, on top of curating many other events in Italy and abroad

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