Identità golose Milano 2016: closing remarks
“La forza della libertà” [The power of freedom]: at this moment in time, no more appropriate title could have been chosen for the 12th Identità golose Milano, the International Chef Congress held at MiCo (Fiera Milano Congressi) from 6 to 8 March. Precisely because our increasingly homogeneous world and the mutual mistrust that has arisen over the last few years due to fundamentalism, wars, horrific terrorist attacks and human migration on a biblical scale has increasingly reduced the space for understanding the identities and diversities of peoples and cultures.
Cookery and curiosity about the eating habits and culinary traditions of others, however, have turned out to be one of the most effective antidotes to the barbarisation of relations between people. So the freedom mentioned in the title of Identità golose Milano 2016 has become a driving force for reappraising the value of creativity and conviviality as a focus of cultural and technical exchanges worldwide.
The event’s more than one hundred hosted chefs, who took turns and exchanged tips on stage in the various halls of the Congress, endorsed this premise by presenting their creations, starting from the common denominators of respect for the planet and the sustainable use of resources, as opposed to waste and senseless consumption. The event itself, and the unity of purpose that distinguished it, thus witnessed a succession of leading chefs from Europe, the United States, Latin America and Asia, all showcasing their best dishes. From Matthew Kenney, with his raw vegan cuisine, to Margarita Forés (best female chef for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants), from the Spaniards Ricard Camarena and Josean Alija, to the Venezuelan Carlos Garcia, the Peruvian Virgilio Martinez (Peru was guest nation at Identità golose Milano 2016) to mention just a few from overseas. An array of top Italian chefs included Massimo Bottura, Massimiliano Alajmo, Niko Romito, Carlo Cracco and Mario Uliassi, as well as Andrea Berton, Annie Feolde, Davide Oldani, Ugo Alciati and Cristina Bowermann, author of the dish (“Nido d’ape”, tripe with lemon mead) reproduced on the event poster. While apologizing to the great chefs we have failed to mention here, we invite you to consult the complete list on www.identitagolose.it.
With the focus on products, lessons were then held by master chefs and experts in the individual sectors, in special workshops on ice cream, Champagne, cheese, bread and panettone, pizza, coffee, vegetables and pasta.
We asked Paolo Marchi (picture), the man who set up Identità golose with the organizational and promotional “complicity” of Claudio Ceroni (MAGENTAbureau), to give us his closing remarks on the 2016 Identità golose Milano. We also remind you that the event has gone international, and, in the course of this year, will also touch Chicago (1 and 2 October) and New York (4-5-6 October).
MiCo: Identità golose, I’m telling you because I visited it, was not just a technically perfect machine. What really impressed me was the involvement and enthusiasm of the players and visitors in the individual events. This is the opinion of a non expert. What will you, Paolo Marchi, take home from this year’s show?
Paolo Marchi: Above all the energy released by the lessons, the debates and the meetings in the halls and at the stands in the exhibition area, but also the laughter and joy of so many people getting together again for three days in a place where quality is key at all times. Plus the satisfaction of having got the theme exactly right: the Power of freedom, or in other words, creating and innovating without limitations or prohibitions.
MiCo: from the very first event back in 2005 at Palazzo Mezzanotte, home to Milan’s stock exchange, what has changed in the work of a chef and in the way cookery is perceived among consumers?
P.M.: It’s been a bit like changing from black and white television to color, and the world of cookery is now heading for high definition. Initially, what mattered was breaking the ice and getting the chefs on stage so that they could talk about their world and the way they work. Now even the less savvy consumers understand this; haute cuisine is becoming popular and less daunting, and consequently it attracts greater attention. Masterchef and TripAdvisor play an important role in all this.
MiCo: What did the 2015 Universal Expo in Milan do for chefs and for cuisine culture in general? Would you say, quite apart from the celebration and the rhetoric, that it was a defining moment from which there is no going back?
P.M.: No going back, certainly, but the opening onto the world bequeathed by Expo needs to be constantly defended and reinforced, it should never be taken for granted .This year’s theme, the Power of Freedom, was also dictated by the tensions currently rocking so many countries in the world.
MiCo: Cooking is also a way to reflect and to make people reflect on themselves and on the world. A way of educating us to think, and God only knows how vital that is at this moment in time. This year’s theme was “The power of freedom”. Such a lofty and important title that will give chefs and everyone else involved in the food culture plenty of “food for thought”. How do you imagine the next step?
P.M.: Loftier still. I think that the “Luxury of simplicity” of five years ago left a profound mark and that is how it will be now. With the editions devoted to wellness and health we recorded a change in taste, in habits and in consumption. With the others, we managed to pick them just as they were budding, in advance almost.
MiCo: Identità golose is an international event that has been replicated in America and in London for years. A sure sign that the project is valid. Which are the strengths appreciated abroad?
P.M.: Our chefs’ ability to innovate tradition, not just to bring out the same old masterpieces that have too often turned into stereotypes. And the way they exchange ideas with chefs from other countries. When we go abroad, not only do we place Italy at the centre of every event, but the lessons are always given by two heads and four hands, i.e. one who’s Italian and one who is not. I love this mixing and matching and detest the word “integration” because in the former case there is mutual respect, while in the latter the suggestion is that the weaker has to renounce something of his own in order to embrace the themes practically forced on him by the stronger one in order to be accepted.