Riccardo Monco and Annie Féolde

The spotlights have always been pointed on patron Giorgio Pinchiorri from Modena and on the chef Annie Féolde from Nice. If Enoteca Pinchiorri for decades has been capable of mantaining a cuisine at the same standards of its vertiginous cellar, however, the merit has to be given to the two chefs who work in the shadow. Italo Bassi, born in 1969, and 1972 born Riccardo Monco, work side by side since 1993 and have certainly been protagonists of half of the story of this place which, next October, will celebrate 40 years.

In Italy, and at these levels, this is a fellowship of unparalleled longevity. A tandem that began to couple before the roads would converge in Florence: upon turning 18, Bassi, from Fusignano in Romagna, was fortunate enough to breathe the frenzy of the Trigabolo, a precursory centre for creative cuisine conceived by Igles Corelli in Argenta, near Ferrara. Meanwhile, the young Milanese Monco was glancing at the job in the kitchens of Angelo Paracucchi, Pietro Leemann and Alain Senderens, three colossuses in their respective styles. The vocation to real cuisine thus seized the two young men, condemned to succumb.

It was 1993, the season of the third star, but also that in which Carlo Cracco left via Ghibellina in Florence for good and entered the kitchen of Gualtiero Marchesi in Erbusco. Italo Bassi was back from an experience as head chef at Pinchiorri's in Tokyo, in Japan, a country where, thanks to him, fresh pasta, its meaning totally ignored before then, became enthusiastically popular (even Masahiko Kobe today uses a cappelletto as a symbol of his restaurant). Called back to the headquarters, Bassi left press and ideograms and called Monco by his side, as his equal: in a world of protagonists, he wanted to share honours and merits from the beginning.

This diarchy starts on May 23rd 1993. But these are difficult years, despite the freshly obtained third star: the attack on November 17th 1992 will weigh heavily over the following years, with the whole team, busy day and night, trying to rebuild and clean the cellar, destroyed by the fire. On May 27th 1993, the bomb explosion in the nearby Uffizi follows and in 1995 the third star is lost. There's enough to depress even a helpless optimist. But not Bassi, Monco and Annie Féolde - officially the chef, but in fact less and less in the kitchen, except for the “pizzini” on the counters, with which she continues to suggest the line – who roll up their sleeves and start the ascent which, for the second time, in November 2003, conducts them to the conquest of the third star, signing the history of an uncommon fall and new ascent in Italy.

The rest is recent history: assisted by the farsightedness of Pinchiorri and Féolde – who over the years have promoted, in the kitchen, authors such as Baiocco, Berton, Fanella, Genovese, Landi, Lopriore, Mattei in Italy; Jacopo Falai or Takeshi Murata abroad - the Bassi-Monco fellowship rushes along, following the tracks of a solid orthodoxy, revived by today's requests: emotion, taste, digestibility. Three missions accomplished thanks to an intuition that doesn't rely on the usual suppliers «we don't want the same lamb loin or Romagnola pigs as the others. Where is the novelty, otherwise?». A peculiar selection, always and only centred on the richness of taste, because «a tomato must taste like tomato, not hay». A truth amplified by the two men here and there, in the world, as they're conscious ambassadors and co-authors of the central role that Pinchiorri is playing in the history of Italian cuisine.


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Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes. 
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