Sunday, 21 November 2010

Gualtiero Marchesi

Memorable things often happen unexpectedly. I was wandering around Il Desco, Lucca food show, when I saw Gualtiero Marchesi , the great Milanese Chef, talking to a worshipping little crowd in a room. I tried to found a little niche but the best place I could sneak in had a glass door in front of me and I couldn’t really hear him. So feeling a bit discouraged I slipped out to continue my exploration of the show. I caught up with Celia and told her that I had recently seen his cookery book and I would like to own a copy. Half an hour later we found ourselves in the same place. I noticed that a small stall had a copy of his book (Celia bought it for me) and Gualtiero Marchesi was still in the room talking to a few people. I kind of joined in the conversation, which was about his way of cooking. He is strong about the idea that cuisine moves on and he has lightened his dishes unlike some traditional cooks – and he mentioned a French starred one who is a good friend of his and has had the same menu for 50 years. I asked if he still has his restaurant and he replied that it is in Erbusco, near Brescia.

I knew that he had a disagreement with the Michelin guide and as a result his restaurant is now only mentioned in the book. His restaurant was the first to be awarded the three stars in Italy.
When he heard my name he immediately said “You must be Neapolitan” . Then I offered the book for him to sign.
He was wearing his iconic coat with cape sleeves which I see him wearing in most of his pictures. He is now 80 but looked in his late sixties. I can say that if you love food you will keep very young!
I am very honoured to have met him even if only briefly.

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