Remembering Marchesi

Remembering Marchesi
Red and Black, inspired by Mark Rothko (monkfish in squid ink with cold gazpacho sauce)

Gualtiero Marchesi has been the greatest Maestro and interpreter of modern Italian cuisine. We would like to honour his memory through his own words


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?

GM: 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.

Simplicity is
a difficult
conquest "

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.

Gualtiero Marchesi in the kitchen, ph. Luisa Valieri
Gualtiero Marchesi in the kitchen, ph. Luisa Valieri

In a world dominated by food trends, Italian and French cuisine are still deemed as the most authentic national cuisines on a global scale. How much do they affect each other?

GM: Bocuse once told me: "French cuisine will fall into decline as soon as Italian chefs will realize the wealth of products and recipes they have available." How is that for an answer?.

Does aspiring to Michelin stars still make sense, today?

GM:Everyone has the right and the responsibility to choose their own goals. I have returned my Michelin stars, as many other chefs have done recently, for two main reasons: first and foremost, at this point in my life and in my career I was frankly tired of being judged with stars, hats and forks; secondly, I believe that these rankings put too much pressure on the young chefs who are starting their career. They should focus on creating great dishes rather than on earning a reputation..

What could bring a real change to the Italian haute cuisine scene?

GM: I always started from the assumption that tradition does clash with innovation. It is from the critical rethinking of historical recipes, from their actualization, that today's cuisine is born. And today’s cuisine is the premise to what will come next. In Italy, we sit on an immense wealth, on an incredible variety of microclimates, regional and local products and traditions. All we need to do is look around us.

Can you reveal the three ingredients that you could never live without?

GM: Dedication, energy, and curiosity.

What does Gualtiero Marchesi eat in his everyday life?

GM: I like "nibbling" in general, and I truly love mozzarella.

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