What distinguishes a Chef from a charlatan?
Knowledge of the ingredients, intuition, humility, ability, willpower, the courage to experiment.
Luck has little to do with, a donkey can pretend to be a horse… but sooner or later he is braying!
Starting from the publication of the “Libro de arte coquinaria” of the Italian Chef and gastronomist Maestro Martino, who lived between the XIV and the XV century and considered the most important European Chef of the XV century, a cornerstone of Italian gastronomic literature that testified the passage from the medieval to the renaissance cuisine to get to the last Chefs on the web and television, it is interesting to see how much in over six centuries has changed, even if not always the change is synonymous of improvement.
I greedily browse books and web pages published by Italian Chefs (with some foreigner) looking for some, it is appropriate to say, “delicious morsels”, the perfect delicacy, point the focus on particular indiscreet, some yielding to the vanity anyway revealers of the human, anthropological characteristics of the cooks.
To worthily celebrate my compulsive hunger for knowledge, it is necessary, first of all, to leave out nothing of the browsed pages, because the “gold nugget” could hide, for example, between the folds of a carbonara or in the corners of a meticulous report about the cooking of a risotto.
And then it turns out that, for example, al dente pasta, the workhorse of Italian cuisine, explained precisely by Maestro Martino in his “Libro de arte coquinaria” had very long cooking times.
But going to more recent times it turns out that in 1844 the pasta was cooked an hour, dropped to 45 minutes (The learned Chef of 1871), 15-20 minutes suggested (The real Genoese cuisine of the late nineteenth century and the military Chef of the 1932), again one hour (How can I eat well? 1913), 45 minutes (The healthy kitchen 1846), although there are some voices outside the chorus like that of the Neapolitan Chef Ippolito Cavalcanti who advised in 1837 to drain the pasta when it “showed still a certain tenacity“: with the passing of time, this gastronomic revolution has also contaminated northern of Italy, despite having established itself as a general rule only after World War II.
The homologation of pasta cooking needed tests, time and tastings, one the gold nugget was provided by Chef Elio Sironi who a couple of years ago discovered and sold pasta with “indirect cooking“, ie cook in boiling water for two minutes and fire off the remaining time so as not to disperse the starch in the water and enhance its flavour.
The phenomena that take place during the cooking of the pasta are three: the diffusion of water inside the pasta which is at any temperature; gelatinization of starch above 60 degrees; the denaturation of gluten between 70 and 80 degrees.
Following this rule (recycled by Benjamin Thompson who in 1799 wrote an essay on thermodynamics applied to cooking food), any temperature above 80 degrees is a useless waste of energy but its assertion that the water turned off enhances the flavour of the pasta is groundless.
Among the folds of an interview with two Michelin Stars Chef Gianfranco Vissani, we discover a self-proclaimed lover of traditional cuisine that does not boggle to point the finger at colleagues who accuse of having turned the kitchen upside down, with modern cooking forms that he says “are the greatest disgust in the world and kill flavours and consistency, everything tastes like boiled “.
Vissani talks about the vituperated vacuum cooking at a low temperature, I honestly do not share his opinion while I admit that it does not work on everything and the results can be different by the beginner’s expectations.
And continuing asserts that “many cooks are not even able to cook the pasta, use tap water and the chlorine affects breaking the spaghetti because the chlorine does not evaporate, indeed, when boiling it concentrates, a good restaurant should know it “.
And more” I saw famous chefs in television programs salted the meat before cooking it, another told that the salt evaporates: it is the water that evaporates, its a disaster!“
But also Chef Vissani does not come out well: the verbal confrontations with the gastronomist Luigi Veronelli who accuses him of using soy oil instead of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying, are well known, but the golden nugget of the traditionalist Chef resides in this transposition (should be better call it destruction) of bucatini all’Amatriciana composed by mixing the sauce and putting it on the bottom of a cup, adding a bucatini mousse on top and finally the sponge cake soaked with “Strega” cordial.
It was a recipe so successful that on the web it is impossible to find any image… thankfully!
In this mine, we can find also the amatriciana with the garlic of the Chef Cracco that has triggered many reactions, the most significant of which was the invitation of the Chef from the typical cuisine school of Amatrice to try the original recipe.
But the echo had not yet been turned off than during the Masterchef contest, the USA Chef Joe Bastianich suggested a competitor use the onion in the preparation of Gricia, the ancestor of Amatriciana.
Well, he’s American, will think the readers, and instead to give a strong hand we find the Italian Michelin Star Chef Cracco: pure delirium.
But Chef Cracco offers us another of his pearls on a silver plate when at the beginning of the year in his new restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan he proposes his pizza.
Not even to say (just watch the photo) to understand what is the wasps’ nest that has raised between pizza’s purists and non.
There is no scandal or worse outrage because it costs too much, everyone spends his money as he wants, but let me say it is ugly, it looks like a burned Apulian Frisella, and there are several versions of pizza… that do not include the crap of Cracco that would do better continue to make the judge at Masterchef.
A few months ago it was the time of Milena Gabanelli, a well-known and loved Italian investigative journalist who, at dinner to Marconi in the Michelin-star restaurant of Aurora and Massimo Mazzucchelli to Sasso Marconi (near Bologna), took a photo of her starter and published it on social media, commenting on it, a very common practice: “NOTHING HEAVY This is an appetizer I do not know what I ate because I could not taste it (cod was written there) But these chefs …?! Milena Gabanelli “.
Her very critical caption and the fact that the restaurant it is a Michelin Star, triggered immediately the controversy.
It is also true that it was not an appetizer but an “amuse-bouche“, but it is still a miserable course for which a restaurant should be ashamed.
Chefs Antonino Cannavacciuolo, Davide del Duca, Christian Milone, Davide Oldani, Claudio Sadler and Viviana Varese lent themselves to advertising a beer allowing it to put on their label a caricature instead of the legendary “Baffo“.
It turns out that all six Chefs of the labels, apparently have a close link with this brand of beer: Del Duca and Milone won the Birra Moretti Grand Cru Prize (respectively in 2014 and 2012), the competition promoted by Birra Moretti in collaboration with Identità Golose (The International Chef Congress), which tests the originality, skills and imagination of the best young Italian talents under 35 inviting them to challenge each other proposing dishes in which beer is used in combination and as an ingredient, Cannavacciuolo, Oldani, Sadler and Varese, instead, four stars of the Italian culinary firmament, have been part of the jury of the Prize and have been called to decree the most virtuous among the emerging Chefs.
That what reported is a striking case of conflict of interest is undoubted, the fact remains that the next time the Chefs will go to advertise McDonald’s?
I’m sorry, I forgot, Chef Joe Bastianich advertises McDonald’s, Chef Cracco, instead, advertise the San Carlo’s chips, Chef Bruno Barbieri advertise the industrial chicken Amadori brand and I could go on, this is a real mine, more than golden nuggets gives us some ideas for reflection about the opportunity to go and sit at their tables.
“Today we are invaded by chefs that if you go to dinner in their restaurants, they are not there because they are always on TV.
Who fuck is cooking then?
Obviously, their brigade, authentic hidden protagonists, who in addition to having much of the merit in achieving the coveted Michelin star by the restaurant (and, of course, by the Chef), are often also paid a little.
So, the question arises spontaneously… but this megastar Chef, will they be able to cook?
Or is it all a cackle, maybe seasoned with crystals of lamb meteorite in liquid and gaseous nitrogen crust with ionized particles to the lobster of Garda Lake?
A bruschetta, thank you… better if it’s good!
I love the cuisine. I love haute cuisine. I love certain personages, who managed to make what was once a simple and noble work, an art form. However, in my opinion, the true phenomena of modern cuisine are those who, in addition to having the right honours, always profess humility, because, to be a cook or a Chef, it’s hard work. And if you do it with humility, respect and passion for quality, it is even more so. And the true aces, after appearing on TV or in a magazine, go back to the kitchen to cook, to discover, to experiment and invent a new dish, with the sole purpose of surprising their customers. Fortunately, they are not all affected by “phenomenalism”, and I love these Chefs, even cooks. So, fewer Chefs and more cooks: we need it! And to the phenomena Chefs, I ask “do you make me a spaghetti garlic oil and pepper?” Let’s see if it is good, at least at the height of your stars. Now I close, because talking about phenomena in the kitchen, start to spinning my balls… sorry, start to dynamize my balls… because dynamizing means spinning“