We continue to present the 'new protagonists' of Identità Milano 2023, i.e. the speakers who will debut at the 18th edition of the most important international congress of fine dining in Italy and among the most prestigious in the world, born in 2005 to give voice, visibility and accompany the growth of Italian chefs, then gradually expanded to the many 'neighbouring districts', i.e. the world of pizza, desserts, wine, mixology, products of excellence, hospitality and hôtellerie. The event will take place MiCo in Milan, from Saturday 28th to Monday 30th January.
READ THE IDENTITÀ MILANO 2023 PROGRAMME HERE
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SARA SCARSELLA AND MATTEO COMPAGNUCCI
Sintesi, Ariccia (Rome)
The Future is theirs, Monday 30th January, 11.30 a.m., Sala Blu 1
There is a complementarity that is part of the universe of Sintesi, a neo-starred restaurant in the Castelli Romani, specifically in Ariccia, in the province of Rome. Two destinies merge and become one, each compensating, each feeding its own reservoir of knowledge in the kitchen, one enriching and seasoning the other's skills. Without ever straying too far from themselves.
Sara Scarsella and Matteo Compagnucci cook in their own kitchen today. She’s from Rome, and graduated from ALMA, the International School of Italian Cuisine; she later worked as an intern at Da Caino in Montemerano, in the Tuscan countryside. There she met Matteo, from the Marche region. At that time he was head pastry chef at Valeria Piccini's restaurant. A mentor, a guide, a great teacher for the two young people.
Then, for both of them, travel and life intertwined: they crossed a map drawn together; they moved alongside each other, finding themselves in almost always different kitchens and meanwhile absorbing, soaking up, accumulating knowledge, which will blossom into the unequivocal will to give life to a creature that would never again see them apart.
First stop across the border, in Oxford, England; then, Noma brings them together, waiting for their paths to part, and then, Sara is at Geranium, a workshop of aesthetic vision and extreme attention to detail, while Matteo is at Brace. Both in Copenhagen.
Soon after, it was Sydney's turn: a new destination, a fresh collection of techniques and alchemy between ingredients, at Neil Perry's Rockpool for Chef Scarsella, while Matteo acquires experience with fish, a skill that pulses through the menu at Sintesi.
The return to Italy is the origin of a new beginning, in March 2020, when the most radiant parenthesis of their story is launched: the opening of their restaurant, together with Sara's sister, Carla Scarsella, head of the dining room and sommelier. Within the walls of Sintesi, they experience an untouched harmony, a cuisine that is extremely natural, made of gentle gestures and strong flavours that leave a mark for both their substance and delicacy. A new goodness.
Osteria BRR by Alain Ducasse, Singapore
The Future is Theirs, Monday 30th January 15.15 pm, Sala Blu 1
Some people cultivate a love of cooking through curiosity, and arrive in the kitchen after wandering for a long time. Some people, on the other hand, by force of things and pure and beautiful magnetism, have practically never left a kitchen.
This is the case of Natalino Ambra, from Prato, who, at the age of seven, enjoyed experimenting with what he found at home so he could eat what he liked best. A perfectly natural preamble that led him to attend catering school in Montecatini, in his native Tuscany. Here Ambra took his first steps, joining the brigade of the restaurant at the Golf Club Resort in Castiglion del Bosco. After two “local” years, he dived into the “global” world of restaurants, always bringing with him a good slice of Italy.
We start in Dubai, in the Arab Emirates, with the opening of the Armani Hotel; then the journey continues further, to Shanghai where Natalino, his skill and his roaring unstoppability don’t go unnoticed. In fact, he is spotted by chef Corrado Michelazzo from restaurant Va Bene, one of the city's most acclaimed Italian restaurants. He is immediately put to the test, bringing to the table the tasty classicism of Italy wrapped in light influences, blissfully-assimilated Asian whispers, demonstrating how the elegance and sophisticated aura of fine dining can coexist with the pleasantness and lightness of the experience.
All this takes place in just a few years, not decades of experience, yet the future still holds a surprise for Natalino Ambra - and, we are sure, the road is still long and promising for him: he’s become Chef de Cuisine at Osteria BRR by Alain Ducasse at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore: from Monte Carlo to the Ligurian Coast, the Italian Riviera enters the heart and memory of Monsieur Ducasse and becomes the creative base of the Singaporean establishment. A perfect container of contemporaneity mixed with pure Italian tradition, Ambra's personal touch and, last but not least, the sublime supervision of Alain Ducasse. No matter where you go, you find Italy. And it shines.
Torno Subito, Miami
Identità di Formaggio (in partnership with Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano), Monday 30th January, 3.15 p.m., Sala Blu 2
We saw Bernardo Paladini at work and met him in the Hub's kitchens last June. Low profile, but great energy; born in Rome in 1989, Bernardo is one of those many brilliant cases of a path undertaken and then totally 'redesigned’, thanks to a magnetic, irresistible attraction towards the world of cooking.
The son of a journalist and a professor, before donning the chef's jacket, he graduated from high school and enrolled in the Faculty of Economics and Business: the circle could have closed there. But then passion played its part and Bernardo, after attending a cookery course, chose his own path – revolution.
Base camp: Rome, the cradle in which everything originates, which is why among his tattoos, in addition to two dedications to Faber, Fabrizio De André, there is also an artichoke, the symbol of Roman cuisine par excellence. In his mind, then, music, cooking and a great desire to travel, ploughing the world from culture to gastronomic culture. So, after his first experiences at 'home', at Giulio Terrinoni's Per Me and at Acquolina in Rome, Bernardo aims straight at his dream. Hence, a first internship at Osteria Francescana, where he met Massimo Bottura, and then the opportunity to oversee the opening of Ristorante Italia in Istanbul. His later return to Modena has him at the helm of la Franceschetta58, the Francescana Family's bistro, before supporting the opening of Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Florence.
But Bernardo Paladini is the name we proudly link, above all, to Torno Subito, in Dubai. This is the Modenese three-starred chef's brilliant creation that exports the spirit of the Riviera Romagnola of the 1960s to the Arab Emirates. The winning combination of sophisticated elegance and relaxed ambience where the classic flavours of Italian tradition dominate, reimagined in a contemporary key. Mind you, there is nostalgia here: Paladini seasons creativity with joy and playfulness, he has plenty of energy, and all in all, he channels his technique and irony to bring a star to Bottura’s gourmet establishment at the W Hotel on The Palm, Dubai.
Today, Bernardo's future continues on a new course, bound to Miami, where Torna Subito will soon find a new home in the world.
La Contrada, Aversa (Caserta)
Identità Cocktail (in collaboration with Bibite Sanpellegrino and Perrier), with Elena Montomoli, Monday 30th January, 10.00 a.m., Spazio Arena
When passion pulses within, sooner or later it finds its way into one's hands, it becomes a craft and art blossoms: this is how we could sum up Roberta Esposito's love for pizza.
In fact, Roberta, patron and pizzaiola, was born and raised in the family restaurant, La Contrada, in Aversa; or rather, to be more precise, restaurant and pizzeria. Only, the latter was always second to the kitchen and Roberta, in those days, was still maître de salon. That is why she found herself those 'right' eyes to imagine a pizza to taste, to savour slowly: in short, not the usual pizza. But all this remained a vision for a while, while from time to time, when the service was gradually winding down, Roberta would make herself a pizza to break the appetite.
Until making it for herself was no longer enough and Roberta's pizza began to exist for an audience: the guests of La Contrada. From then on, the start of a tailored, fine work, from the dough to the precious local toppings; a work always with two voices, with her brother Alessio who takes care of the kitchen and the desserts: together they think and influence each other, but pizza becomes, more and more often, the reason to go at La Contrada.
A disc both soft and crunchy, containing within it the history of the Caserta area, contemporary ideas, with a large attention paid to Margherita, or rather to Margherite, because tomato is Roberta's favourite ingredient.
Tenacious, tireless, demanding, from the stage in the dining room, Roberta became the queen of the oven, winning prestigious awards year after year, so that La Contrada, today, asserts itself as one of the best pizzerias in Campania.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
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
All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani
Paolo Marchi’s words representing the Identità Milano 2023 congress. All photos from Brambilla-Serrani