I was very happy to read the thoughts of Riccardo Felicetti, as reported in this newsletter. He highlighted a very important detail that’s connected with the theme of Identità Golose 2018. The Human Factor. No matter what the section or speaker on stage, it was not meant to be as a sort of nostalgia for the good old days as opposed to the era of social networks we are experiencing.

It’s not about not making use of the best novelties available. It’s not about going back in time. It’s about putting people at the heart of everything, their relationships and thoughts, their intelligence and skills. We don’t want to be overcome by the internet, to become dumb what with likes and colours, putting aesthetics ahead of goodness.

It’s harder and harder to slow down, to be completely aware of what’s really useful and important for all of us. Even the lessons focused on pasta have shown that it’s mostly a question of character, of knowledge and strong ethics. The human factor as a response and as the desire to put people first, at the heart of the creative process. On Sunday 4th of March it wasn’t just great Italian chefs who went on stage. We had Massimo Bottura and Carlo Cracco, but there were also Sarah Grueneberg from the United States and Yannick Alleno from France.

The reason why this is important, is that around the world, people are starting to test themselves with durum wheat pasta, our beloved dry pasta, which requires to be cooked al dente, something many people abroad don’t understand, and hence don’t appreciate. Our cooks will be less and less accused of thinking that in order to serve a good meal, you just have to boil some spaghetti or maccheroni and season them with tomato. Al dente is our exception. It is so because it’s quite hard to cook pasta the way we like it in Italy. If this wasn’t the case, many people would have commandeered pasta, they way they did with pizza.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Giorgia Cannarella (GC), Mariella Caruso (MC), Elisa Nata (EN) and Luciana Squadrilli(LS). Translated by Slawka G. Scarso. Photos by Brambilla/Serrani

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 66 del 20 march 2018

Dear {{NOME}},

I was very happy to read the thoughts of Riccardo Felicetti, as reported in this newsletter. He highlighted a very important detail that’s connected with the theme of Identità Golose 2018. The Human Factor. No matter what the section or speaker on stage, it was not meant to be as a sort of nostalgia for the good old days as opposed to the era of social networks we are experiencing.

It’s not about not making use of the best novelties available. It’s not about going back in time. It’s about putting people at the heart of everything, their relationships and thoughts, their intelligence and skills. We don’t want to be overcome by the internet, to become dumb what with likes and colours, putting aesthetics ahead of goodness.

It’s harder and harder to slow down, to be completely aware of what’s really useful and important for all of us. Even the lessons focused on pasta have shown that it’s mostly a question of character, of knowledge and strong ethics. The human factor as a response and as the desire to put people first, at the heart of the creative process. On Sunday 4th of March it wasn’t just great Italian chefs who went on stage. We had Massimo Bottura and Carlo Cracco, but there were also Sarah Grueneberg from the United States and Yannick Alleno from France.

The reason why this is important, is that around the world, people are starting to test themselves with durum wheat pasta, our beloved dry pasta, which requires to be cooked al dente, something many people abroad don’t understand, and hence don’t appreciate. Our cooks will be less and less accused of thinking that in order to serve a good meal, you just have to boil some spaghetti or maccheroni and season them with tomato. Al dente is our exception. It is so because it’s quite hard to cook pasta the way we like it in Italy. If this wasn’t the case, many people would have commandeered pasta, they way they did with pizza.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Giorgia Cannarella (GC), Mariella Caruso (MC), Elisa Nata (EN) and Luciana Squadrilli(LS). Translated by Slawka G. Scarso. Photos by Brambilla/Serrani

Felicetti: human factor, an extraordinary theme

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Rather than describing in detail what happened during the latest edition of Identità di Pasta, I’d like to develop some thoughts on the fil rouge that Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni chose this year, the human factor. It’s an extraordinary theme, and I hope it can continue to be discussed for many years to come.

“Human” is not, as we’ve brought to think by globalization, the opposite of “modern”. It doesn’t mean “old”. This equation would be dangerous because it leads to a seeming omnipotence, to a depersonalisation of relationships. Recipes are not born as copies of the preparations offered by our devices. Knowledge spurs from training, study, commitment, respect. Culture comes first. It was nice to see that many chefs share this thought.

We should all aim for ethics and respect because we, in the first place, cannot speak of farmers who safeguard their land and then launch an automatic answering machine: «for the sales department, press 2». We must work to create culture and values. And follow the path of the human factor for many years to come.

Riccardo Felicetti
(In the photo, Indian Gaggan Anand enjoys the Rigatoni with almond and tomato sauce that Massimo Bottura made in Monograno Felicetti’s pop-up restaurant at Identità Milano)

Carlo Cracco’s personal tribute to Marchesi

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A declaration of love and of great respect turns into a new take/tribute to Marchesi’s Raviolo aperto. This is what Carlo Cracco made in the lesson opening Identità di pasta, during which he created a raviolo aperto with risoni pasta. «Risoni where the pasta that represented Mister Marchesi, born among the paddies of the Pavese region». In order to create his raviolo aperto, Cracco cooked the risoni al dente, then added some white wine and fresh grated ginger. On this base he placed a sauce of lightly seared scallops and sole.

The pastry is made with marinated egg yolks: Cracco’s classic becomes an element in his Maestro’s classic. Chervil replaced Marchesi’s parsley. During the lesson, on top of listing the ingredients used to marinate egg yolks (salt, sugar, bean paste and seven hours), the chef from Vicenza also explained how his «marinated egg yolk pasta» was born. Marinated egg yolk (and derivatives) also have a main role in the new menu at restaurant Cracco in Galleria, in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, «which we’ve just opened».

This place joins Garage Italia which the Venetian chef runs with Lapo Elkann. «A rather alternative place. That’s why we asked Riccardo Felicetti to make an exclusive format of pasta in the shape of a silencer». Challenge accepted. When ready, the pasta will be shaped like the silencer of an Abarth from the Seventies.
(MC)

Cristoforo Trapani, rigatoni turn sweet

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Born in Piano di Sorrento, the chef from La Magnolia at hotel Byron in Forte dei Marmi, has pasta in his DNA. As well as talent, experience (from Beck to Cannavacciuolo to Colagreco) and sensitivity. So much so he knows how to play and transform pasta into a dessert, without misrepresenting it.

On the stage of Sala Blu he presented two recipes. The first, born from a challenge: creating a menu entirely based on pasta. It presents the archetype of the Mediterranean first course in a (moderately) sweet version: Rigatoni with tomato and mozzarella. He cooks the pasta, fries it and fills it with a cream of buffalo milk mozzarella, with some drops of “jam” made with piennolo tomatoes, basil sprouts and dehydrated and grated buffalo milk mozzarella. It’s crispy, its sweetness perfectly balanced.

The second recipe is the evolution of the concept that first spurred from that divertissement: Tagliatelle crêpe suzette. In this case the dry pasta with egg is cooked in water aromatised with orange, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cristoforo Trapani then mixes it with mozzarella water and a cream made with yellow tomatoes, orange juice and Grand Marnier, recalling the aroma of the famous vintage dessert. He adds red and yellow micro-tomatoes, salt flakes, basil, grated orange zest and powdered mozzarella. Served cold, the dish is on the edge between savoury and sweet and the delicious liquid that remains on the base almost invites one to scoop it up with some bread.
LS

Sarah Grueneberg, cacio and pepe power

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Sarah Grueneberg is the chef at Monteverderestaurant & pastificio, established in 2016 in the West Loop, in Chicago. Originally from Texas, Grueneberg worked for many years with Tony Mantuano, a pioneer of Italian cuisine in the United States, and in Italy, at Dal Pescatore with Nadia Santini. Here she learnt to love, and most of all to cook, dry pasta, the classic staff meal. So she decided to open a restaurant seating 300 people in Chicago that is entirely dedicated to pasta. They serve traditional Italian classics, from gnocchetti to tortelloni, and new and creative takes such as Arrabbiata with prawns or Cacio Whey Pepe.

She prepared the latter on the stage of Identità explaining how it was born: «I was making some ricotta at home when my boyfriend Jamie said he fancied pasta cacio e pepe. So instead of cooking water, I used the whey resulting from making ricotta, and then mixed the bucatini with Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Sardo».

For the second recipe she mixed the dough for some fresh pasta a few minutes before getting on stage (at the restaurant, she has two authentic rezdore who roll out the pasta every day). She rolls out the dough while Jamie – whom she met in the kitchen at Mantuano’s Spiaggia – prepares the filling, with very fresh vegetables. They later fill the tortelli and fry them in a sauce of miso and mirin. The dish is finished with honey, hazelnuts and green shallot.
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Cristiano Tomei, respect for pasta

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With his energetic and not very politically correct style, the chef from L’Imbuto in Lucca invites people to respect pasta, a precious raw material, the result of the careful work of great artisans. Instead of stressing it and cooking it like risotto, according to Cristiano Tomei it should be touched as little as possible. The sauce should be a sort of “caress”. For instance, he cooks rigatoni in a tasty fish stock (another preparation that has poor origins but should be recuperated giving it its deserved value) so it can absorb its flavour. He then removes the pasta from the pot and mixes it in a thick layer of extra virgin olive oil from Colline Lucchesi aromatised with alliaria (a wild herb whose scent recalls gentle garlic). This way, he delicately “dresses” the pasta.

In the dish, without too many frills, he mixes some fish seasoned with lemon zest, aromatic herbs and a little cooking oil: «It’s a seemingly simple dish that requires a lot of work; the pasta has little seasoning, mostly oil, but its taste reminds one of the sea». The second dish started off as a provocation: spaghetti bread butter and jam, seasoned with a sauce made with stale bread – «I often use it in sauces. You should never throw away bread». He leaves the bread to ferment and then adds some seawater and a sort of “jam” made with helichrysum and chicory. A nice play on sweetness, bitterness and sapidity in which pasta keeps its main role.
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Salvatore Bianco, between land and sea

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Between land and sea. This was the title of Salvatore Bianco’s lesson – one Michelin star at Il Comandante inside Romeo Hotel in Naples. A twofold name for the twofold soul of the Neapolitan city, where meat and fish have the same importance in the local culinary tradition. And not just meat and fish: before being “mangiamaccheroni” [pasta eaters], Neapolitans were known as “mangiafoglie” [leaf eaters].

The first dish presented by the chef – who also worked in Capri, Chianti, and in St.Moritz and Rome – is spaghetti precooked in seawater, in which salinity and sweetness blend thanks to the fact the pasta is cooked like a risotto, in three broths, and thanks to the match with a sauce of oysters and lupini, a mix of seaweeds and cuore di mare (a mollusc whose scientific name is cardium edule). It’s a complex dish that has the goal of «serving the sea in a dish» and shows the passion and respect the chef has for local products. It’s a super colourful dish, just like the second one: kamut chiocciole cooked in a broth of hibiscus and rabbit from Ischia – to keep to the local area, in Campania. Final touch: a sauce of processed brain. It’s strong, indeed, but there’s a reason: «I don’t want to throw anything of the animal. And I must educate clients».

He uses the rest of the rabbit to make a terrine, while he cuts belly and shoulder in thin slices and serves it with the pasta, with morels, wild asparagus, powdered liver and heart pâté. The idea came when reading the label on Monograno Felicetti chiocciole pasta: it mentioned the flowery aromas of kamut, and he thought they would work well in an infusion of hibiscus. There’s complexity, but always with a specific goal: giving value to the territory in every way.
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Alléno: spaghetti, French style

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It’s not that often that a French chef puts himself at the service of pasta. Yannick Alléno, who already as a child had Paul Bocuse as his idol, now 49, travels around with his 6 Michelin stars and elegant posture. At Identità di Pasta he gave his interpretation of the very Italian spaghetti with a lesson titled "The meeting of gastronomic cousins".

Alléno told many anecdotes,– like the fascinating one about his grandmother, who having 13 children to feed came up with the idea of “bottled chicken” by pulling chicken inside empty bottles («My grandfather was a strong drinker») using a knitting needle, which he then transformed into one of his dishes. Meanwhile, he turned spaghetti into a wrap with a delicate filling of morels, fat liver and black truffle resulting in a strongly French character.

However, he doesn’t add raw truffle, but cooks it in butter. The base for this delicious wrap, in which spaghetti become the container, is a white sauce of celeriac and porcini that is directly inspired by Alléno’s philosophy, and his revolutionary work to make sauces lighter and to concentrate flavours through low temperatures.

This revolution, however, doesn’t intend to change the nature of codified flavours. An example? Foie gras. «Even ancient Egyptians loved it. The only thing to change, in this case, is forced-feeding. Geese love eating and there are people who are working so as to return to the ancient methods, where geese are led to move along a path scattered with food, so that they grow fat but following their nature».
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Massimo Bottura’s happy stumble

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The chef from Osteria Francescana in Modena brings on stage not just many recipes based on pasta, but most of all the “human factor” that surrounds him and from whose confrontation and meeting – as well as from mistakes and the capacity to remain vigil and curious, what Massimo Bottura calls “the happy stumble” – are born many of the dishes presented in the restaurant in Modena or in one of its many “satellite projects”, from Florence to the new Refettorio soon to open in Paris.

So there was a sort of big band show, with some of his collaborators presenting recipes in Sala Blu. Among the many dishes, Pippo makes spaghetto del Refettorio, born from the idea of recuperating the eggs from the soles used in a dish - marinated, smoked and emulsified – which become a sauce with cheese crust, anchovy colatura and blanched, dehydrated and powdered lemon zest. Simone prepares Bottura’s take on borlengo – a sort of thin and crispy crêpe made of water and flour, and served with chopped lard, garlic, rosemary and grated cheese, the typical poor food in Modena – made with overcooked pasta, later made crispy (blended, dehydrated and fried).

Berno, from Rome – but «with an open mind and the gift of humility» says the chef – makes Amatriciana a Modena, in the menu at Franceschetta: «One of the most important lessons I learnt from Massimo, is that you should always be open to new influences, you should keep your eyes wide open when you travel, so as to enrich your dishes with ingredients from new places. This led me to think of Amatriciana in the context of Modena».

Japanese Taka makes a soup from bones of game that is inspired by memories of his grandmother’s cuisine and of his travels to Thailand. The result is a strong broth that reminds one of Thai tom thanks to the acidity given by lemon and lime squeezed on the moment, and served very hot with letter-shaped pasta made for them especially by Pastificio Felicetti. French pastry-chef Robin’s shapes pasta – transformed into a crispy wafer as with borlengo, but cooked in saffron – into a millefoglie, filled with vanilla custard, salted caramel, orange and lemon gel.
LS

Narducci: down to Naples

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Transversal dishes, like him. Alessandro Narducci, born in 1989, from Acquolina in Rome hints at Naples in his lesson at Identità di pasta, titled "Ego ingrediente". «Speaking generically of "Human Factor" is pointless. I like to explain this through pasta», says Narducci. For him, the emblem of the human factor are Spaghetti with vongole fujute, the result of Neapolitan creativity. «I’ve always found them fascinating, and after thinking it through, I realised the essential ingredient is the human factor that replaces the vongole, which are only mentioned». Italian fantasy and irony in a dish that according to legend was invented by Eduardo De Filippo, «the final representation in which actor and audience blend into each other». In the case of Narducci this results in spaghetti seasoned with a sauce of garlic, parsley, semi-confit cherry tomatoes, sea lettuce, extra virgin olive oil, powdered chilli pepper.

The second dish is surprising. Cold pasta that Narducci has in the menu and makes by cooking the maccheroni straight on the table on a burner inside a wrap of sea lettuce to which he adds thyme, garlic, tomato and a prawn head. The dishing is masterful with paccheri filled with burrata, raw red prawn, lovage, red shallot and a snow of 'nduja. «In this dish, I try to connect with the client, which is the most important thing. It’s a way to have a chat while the food, in the middle of the table, is cooking».
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Antonello Colonna: the spaghetti comeback

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«I was the first to disown home cooking», admitted Antonello ColonnaOpen Colonna and Labico, after a long speech on the importance of our roots «I disowned spaghetti, but then understood their value. At some point, cacio e pepe had disappeared. You wouldn’t even find it in a tavern in Rome that’s called Cacio e Pepe. But then there was a comeback. Now, with Riccardo Felicetti, the owner of the Italian pasta factory at the highest altitude in Europe, we’re conducting a very interesting research on pasta».

There were three ingredients in his dish presented at Identità di Pasta, a homage to Roman cuisine, which is a peasant cuisine, popular and summery. First spaghetto Felicetti Valentino, larger than spaghettoni, which Riccardo Felicetti explained results from a complex procedure so as to maintain a homogenous structure in terms of starch and gluten, reducing humidity. Then black truffle and cannellini beans smoked with a herring. A dish that has an earthy aroma, and recalls summer storms in the countryside, reminding us that cooking is about aromas, memory, emotions.
EN