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Identità Milano '23: a success packed with energy: «This is how our bet on change has rewarded us»

Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni assess edition number 18: «We’re adults now, we presented an intense and brave programme, capturing the extraordinary desire to work that you can find in our field»

Paolo Marchi’s words representing the Identità

Paolo Marchi’s words representing the Identità Milano 2023 congress. All photos from Brambilla-Serrani

We’re now adults, but we’re as young and fresh as ever. Because when assessing the 18th edition of Identità Milano, the three-day congress that ended a couple of weeks ago, it’s a concentrate of energy and enthusiasm: flattering numbers, big smiles, injections of adrenaline to continue on our road, which is the right one. «It wasn’t simple. And it wasn’t guaranteed – says Paolo Marchi, curator of the event and creator with Claudio Ceroni – after two softer editions, for reasons that had nothing to do with our intentions. And most of all – almost nobody realised, not even us – that it had been almost four years since the 23-25 th March 2019 when we organised the last “normal” Identità, edition number 15. Since then, the world has more than changed, what with the pandemic, war and all sorts of problems... We live in a different decade, the prospects and the feelings are different, the economic and social context have been revolutionised. A big question mark was looming: would people still be interested in our content or, having changed approach, would they prefer something simpler, lighter, more cheerful? Would they be interested as in the past in the concrete content we’ve always presented? The answer is yes».

«The merit goes to you, Paolo», says Ceroni. Who explains: «The 18th edition of Identità Milano, on top of being revolutionary already from its theme, was also historical in a way, because it marked not only the return to big numbers – in terms of participants, Italian and international speakers, and exhibitors – but also in terms of the extraordinary desire to cover topics connected with the changes of the industry on a global scale. Paolo Marchi’s programme was a challenge. It seemed really brave because it offered the audience of the Auditorium many talks with prestigious speakers whom we asked to discuss very interesting but also very complex topics, which require attention to be understood. In other words: it was an ambitious and not banal programme. Which met a huge success».

Claudio Ceroni and Paolo Marchi on the stage of Identità Milano 2023

Claudio Ceroni and Paolo Marchi on the stage of Identità Milano 2023

Ceroni points out another winning strategy, that we could sum up like this: having transformed Identità Milano, on top of the event we already know, also as a "home" for different moments, events within the event, included in the general programme. «It’s a choice we will keep in the future: partnering with others, creating a sort of system for which the congress becomes a point of reference for neighbouring events». There are many examples: «We have further developed Identità Cocktail, which is becoming a programme in its own right, with some of the most important names in Italian and international mixology. We hosted the Italian finals of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, which required a huge organisational effort but also allowed us to attract even more attention to both events. And then there’s Golosi di Identità, in the new Spazio Arena and in partnership with Fondazione Cotarella: it allowed us for the first time to place the right attention on different themes like those of wellbeing and eating disorders». A point, the last one, that Paolo Marchi shares: «It’s always been thought– even Carlo Petrini in the days of Arci Gola fought this prejudgement – that people who work in the food and wine industry are basically bingers who eat and drink until late, instead of focusing on the issues of the world. So I liked how the Spazio Arena within Identità Milano, drew the attention of the audience to the issues of fragility and eating disorders. And the Arena itself was an excellent idea: an open space at the congress, free, where we could talk of many things».

The new Spazio Arena

The new Spazio Arena

But what did they like best of the “classic” Identità Milano, the lessons from the chefs and the gourmets, that is? Ceroni: «Too many moments to be able to isolate only some. So I’ll say having met once again an exceptional enthusiasm, both from the speakers – I’m thinking of guests like Alex AtalaAlbert AdriàLeonor EspinosaBrian McGinn of Chef's Table, to mention only some of the foreigners – and among the guests, in the corridors, in front of the stands». Marchi agrees: «I really enjoyed seeing how many people the exhibitors brought. We hand them a space, and then each one decides how to "exploit it", to enrich it. And well, they have organised some beautiful, very precious moments. It’s another proof of the desire that was there and that we have captured and channelled. Like the success and the growth of the spaces dedicated to wine, which really stood out».

Andoni Luis Aduriz at Identità Milano 2023

Andoni Luis Aduriz at Identità Milano 2023

And what about the lessons? Marchi: «I liked the return of Andoni Luis Aduriz, who was one of the magnificent 18 in the first edition of 2005, at Palazzo Mezzanotte. He was exemplary, and very, very deep. He joked: "It’s been 18 years and 18 kilos". But he’s also shown he still has some very bright ideas (read here). We often pay lots of attention to the moment, to the unexpected events that attract the spotlight. But the stars are those who, after the initial burst, keep their quality and creativity over time... Alberto Tomba, for instance, managed to win at least a competition in the World Cup for ten years in a row, not even Ingemar Stenmark did as much: this means being a huge champion. See: Aduriz is a star. He honoured us with his presence as speaker, just like Harold McGee, an intellectual, an authority whom you would imagine all focused on his studies. Instead he enjoyed the three days of the congress, he attended the talks, and come happily to the dinners we organised at Identità Golose Milano, and he even paid a visit to the Alajmos at Le Calandre...». Energy, energy, energy. «And speaking of energy: how about the energy Faith Willinger released?! How about the liveliness of the stand of the Calabria Region? Or of Franco Pepe who invented Dolce Sbaglio», a sweet version of a pizza that is now anthologised, his Margherita Sbagliata? «It struck me [read here]. And I’d also like to recall Antonio Chiodi Latini: he’s the proof that, even if your beard is white, you can show you are new, brand new, and have fresh ideas that many young people can only envy».

A final thought: «We are the revolution. The revolution is within us. It’s about not being satisfied, not looking elsewhere. We have also noticed that mass media, the press, have responded significantly, that they have finally overcome a typical Italian jealousy and division. I believe our enthusiasm was contagious. The proof? In many have already asked to participate in the next edition, from Saturday 9th to Monday 11th March 2024 (no, I haven’t chosen the theme yet). See, I’ve come to notice that when an event finishes, if it went badly, you say goodbye, and if it went well, you say see you next time. And this time we only heard many people say see you next time».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2023: ladies and gentlemen, the revolution has been served


Carlo Passera

journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief

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