e has made the history (and the culture) of Italian cuisine, conquered (and returned) three Michelin stars, received prizes, honors and honorary degrees, founded some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world and mentored so many great chefs. Yet until the end of his days, Gualtiero Marchesi never stopped giving his contribution to the world of high-end cuisine with enviable tenacity. Six months after his death, we are ready to remember him through the things he told us when we had the opportunity to interview him.
The great revolution that you brought into Italian cuisine is based on two comparatively simple aspects: amazing ingredients and beautiful presentations. What remains and what is missing of all this in today's Italian haute cuisine?
GM: Simplicity is a tough and difficult conquest, a daily choice, because it can only work through consistency. The absolute respect for the raw materials and a set of perfect technical skills cannot be improvised. Today, our national haute cuisine appears far too infatuated with creativity and the need to astonish, or under a sort of obligation to show off. Instead, great cuisine should be at the service of good health.
What is it that makes a dish memorable?
GM: A great dish is also a beautiful dish. When a recipe is updated, lightened up, essential and impeccably performed, it will make a dish memorable.
The aesthetics of food is something that you have always taken care of meticulously. How does the way a dish looks influence the perception of taste and the stimulation of our appetite?
: As Heraclitus said, out of discord comes the fairest harmony. When creating a menu, it is crucial to alternate different flavors, colors, and consistencies
, involving the sight and stimulating the appetite.
Speaking of aesthetics, your dishes are clearly inspired by art. Which are the visual artists that have inspired you the most?
GM: Because I have always attached great importance to composition and the dialectic between full and void, I created several dishes loosely based on works by artists like Pollock, Manzoni, Burri, Hsiao Chin and others. I consider it essential, for the success of a dish, to deal both with the form and the substance. Like good music, haute cuisine is the result of a great performance and a nice composition, and sometimes you will come across chefs who know how to use their own language on a symbolic and metaphysical level, creating art.