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“Luciferin” pen (La Stampa). An atheist beyond any reasonable doubt, convinced that the «afterlife is a tasting menu imposed by a chef who doesn’t know how to cook but spends his time on tv» (Corriere della Sera). Persuaded that the nouvelle vague of Italian cuisine is a gigantic bluff, he’s made ruthless remarks about chefs of any number of stars. Including Cannavacciuolo of whom he says: «He’s written more than Proust», and it doesn’t sound like he meant it as a compliment. As for him, he has published some 15 books with the most important publishers in Italy. And has some 70 cooks (not chefs, attention please!) working for him.
But his name is Arrigo Cipriani, born in 1932, and he can afford this. Just like he can afford chasing Orson Welles in the station and make him pay the bill, the usual bottle of “icy Dom Perignon and twelve prawn sandwiches”. A man from the early 20th century, at ease in a shiny yellow linen suit, he’s the heir of the legendary Harry’s bar, on the west side of Piazza San Marco in Venice, declared a national heritage by the Ministry of Culture in 2001. The establishment was founded by his father in Giuseppe Cipriani in 1931. He was the inventor of Bellini and carpaccio, creations strongly connected with paintings, seen that they’re named after Venetian painters.
Cipriani junior could have enjoyed the easy life of many sons-of, with his 200 million turnover per year, and 25 restaurants scattered around the world. Instead, he gave up to the condition of Prigioniero in una stanza [Prisoner in a room, the title of one of his books, published by Feltrinelli] telling anecdotes and secrets from Harry’s. Vittorio Gassman was explosive and depressed. Onassis, broke plates. Eugenio Montale ate with his hands and got all dirty. And then Ernest Hemingway who had his table reserved at Harry’s between the winter of 1949 and 1950 when he finished Across the River and into the Trees, in which the Venetian bar is mentioned more than once.
Little under a century of Italian and international history kept without jealously by Arrigo Cipriani, who says: «I’m the only person in the world who was named after a bar, and not vice versa».
A journalist by profession, curious by vocation, she applies her attitude to investigative reports and food features. She's author for Repubblica, Gambero Rosso, Dispensa
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From the top left corner, clockwise: Raffaele Alajmo, journalist Fabio Busetto, Arrigo Cipriani an Massimiliano Alajmo, the participants of the live show on Instagram that you can watch again here on Youtube
Arrigo Cipriani on the stage of the Auditorium with Paolo Marchi, Raffaele and Massimiliano Alajmo (photo Brambilla-Serrani)