Restaurateurs, journalists, forum addicts and Americans: do not read! Anecdotes and legends on Fulvio Pierangelini – considered for a long time the best Italian chef by a great number of food critics, both Italian and international – flourish. He has an original personality, at the very least, with an atypical training, a grumpy character hiding a sugary heart, inflexible ethics and various forms of rigorousness: some time ago Paolo Marchi called him «the discoverer bear» because of his «high cuisine craftsmanship»; Raffaella Prandi referred to him as «the great soloist» on the Italian scene, in a precious interview-book. He’s the champion of a humanistic cuisine, placing man in the middle, the chef, the artist, instead of a product or a technology. And I’m also thinking of an ethic afflatus, when in times in which it is normal for a chef to be an entrepreneur, a PR, or even a gastronomist, escaping the stove and delegating the creation of recipes, there are few people left who still enjoy using a pan. Perhaps only he and Michel Bras, both capable of transmitting to their dishes vibrations that would be unthinkable for the assembly lines of the haut de gamme restaurants. These are depths rooted in a clear vocation that, before being a choice of profession, was first of all a choice of life.
Born in Rome in 1953, Pierangelini is one of the very few graduated chefs (a first class BA in Political Sciences, to be precise, and a hint of an academic career). After moving to Tuscany in 1980, together with his wife Emanuela he called his famous restaurant Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo (today entirely run by his wife) with reference to an episode in Collodi’s Pinocchio, possibly recalling some left wing episodes (like Pinocchio having a bellyful with the Fox and the Cat in chapter XIII). Since then, milestone dishes have followed one another, all veined with a certain naïveté: perfectionism stays gladly hidden, like in the closed drawers of Visconti’s settings, full of coherent objects to influence the actors’ psyche; and even technique can be set a little aside, on condition that it’s thoroughly mastered («I accept Picasso’s simplification of design because I know that he could draw the most realistic Madonna»).
In other words, his heart has always beaten far from the technicalities and intellectualisms of a certain avant-garde, favouring the allure of known elements: «I prefer to have food arrive on the table through a series of easily identifiable operations, that express themselves in all their transparency. This doesn’t mean that there is no research, but that simplicity is the primary objective of research itself», has always glossed the chef. Now that he works at the Rocco Forte Collection, dividing himself between consultancies in Rome (at Le Jardin De Russie) and Sicily, we ask ourselves when he will return to running a restaurant entirely his own.
Umbra di Perugia con residenza a Bologna, è giornalista e scrittrice di cucina. Tra i numeri volumi tradotti e curati, spicca "6, autoritratto della Cucina Italiana d’Avanguardia" per Cucina & Vini
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Antonia Klugmann: as always, her lecture at Identità Milano 2023 yesterday was very interesting. All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani
The "heralds" of Identità Milano. Eighteen years ago, the first edition of the new-born chef congress, founded by Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni was taking place. Since then, over 16 editions, we've had 775 speakers from 42 different countries
Riccardo Camanini at Identità Milano 2021 (photo Brambilla-Serrani)