Table of contents:
- Have any important aspects been left out? Do you agree or disagree with someone in particular? What would you have said to Minister Bray on the subject?
Video: Very close encounters: starred chefs and Massimo Bray, Minister of Culture
2023 Author: Cody Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 19:13
Dear readers, imagine the occasion: you can finally expose the problems of your category to the highest institutions in the country. Keeping calm.
It happened to the chefs for the first time yesterday, at Eataly Rome, during a (historic?) Meeting with the Minister for Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism, Massimo Bray.
The meeting, organized and presented by the journalist Paolo Marchi and the landlord entrepreneur, Oscar Farinetti, was a need of our chefs after the media uproar following the imprudent statements of the undersecretary for cultural heritage Ilaria Borletti Buitoni in an interview with Panorama.
If you do not have it in mind, here is the offending sentence: In Italy, eating well has long since stopped, unfortunately. We ran after fashions, the French, moving away from our idea of cooking ”.
As you can imagine, the reaction of cooks and journalists was violent and interesting things were said during yesterday's meeting that I will try to summarize.
Pino Cuttaia (La Madia, Licata) opened the discussion by talking about the importance of formation, a theme very dear to all the chefs present. I decided to become a cook thirty years ago, long before the chefs went on television - he said - and I am convinced that a chef is a good craftsman who can describe his territory with passion.
The risk is to lose the authentic profession, the one you only learn in the great kitchens, and I ask the institutions to encourage training in every possible way.
Also Giancarlo Perbellini pastry chef and restaurateur, he pointed the finger at the inability to train in Italy, accusing the media overexposure to have favored a phony fashion that risks ruining the profession.
"It is incredible how young people who come out of hotel establishments do not want to work in classic catering such as taverns or trattorias, but look only to starred stars"
Claudio Saldler (Sadler, Milan), added an important point: in Italy they cannot be hired interns if not protected by recognized institutional bodies.
Many young people are therefore prevented from training in a large restaurant, while restaurants are denied a resource that guarantees higher quality.
Davide Scabin (Combal. Zero, Rivoli) instead stressed the importance of export correctly the image of gastronomic Italy, and his intervention can be summarized in three proposals.
1) Distinguish between Italian "export" products and those that must be protected and protected even at the cost of raising prices, because they are Made in Italy jewels.
2) Create a regional body that collects and regulates our traditional recipes so that they can be exported.
3) To impose two hours of lessons per month to all starred chefs in hotel establishments.
Raffaele Alajmo (Le Calandre, Sarmeola di Rubano) accused Italian politics of mismanaging tourism resources and not knowing how to to communicate. If tourism increases dramatically, as wished by Oscar Farinetti in his introduction, not only would we struggle to welcome foreigners, but we would not be so happy either.
The Italian is often bothered by tourism which, on the contrary, represents a fundamental economic resource. So communication, training and awareness are the key points to insist on, according to Alajmo.
Like him, too Heinz Beck (La Pergola, Rome) highlighted the inability to export and communicate the made in Italy.
In addition, the young generation are arrogant: “The boys leave the institutes at the age of 18 convinced that the job of the cook consists in taking the applause of the customers in the dining room. Instead it is knowledge of raw materials, of technique, it is hard work, it is getting your hands dirty, and studying in depth the resources of a country.
Blame also for the German cook, of inadequate training.
Cristina Bowerman (Glass Hostaria, Rome) then put the load there.
Not only are the hotel establishments in Italy completely inadequate, but there is a complete lack of gastronomic training at the university level because, it seems evident, food is not the same as culture in our country.
Moreno Cedroni (Madonnina del Pescatore, Senigallia), asked the Minister for more attention to the category of Italian cooks. The work of our chefs is starting to be recognized abroad and the stereotype of pizza and spaghetti is finally changing.
It is up to the institutions to take sides publicly and openly alongside the great chefs”.
Speaking of well-known chefs abroad, the intervention of Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Modena) began with a thank you to Bray:
"It is the first time since I have been a cook that a Minister listens to our problems without running away immediately after his speech".
His proposals: to coordinate tourism, agriculture, culture and training. Creating networks between all the country's excellences, from great restaurants to the best taverns, from excellent products and producers to music, art and museums, as part of the same territory.
And get out of the bureaucratic mud as soon as possible.
In the end Gennaro Esposito (Torre del Saracino, Vico Equense), the most optimistic of the group, argued that the network of chefs is there, the Italian restaurant industry is going through a good time, what is really missing is the intervention of the institutions.
For this reason he handed over to the Minister a document written with Massimo Bergami, famous gourmet and director of Alma Graduate School, which summarizes all the things said, in the hope of following up on the long chat.
And what did the Minister say?
What do you want me to say. Everything and nothing, as politicians usually do, but with great kindness, elegance, little politics, and a good dose of passion for the subject. He was there, he took notes, he observed and he promised he will listen.
As a good minister / nerd he also immortalized the event in his Storify. Take an example, chef.
The most important thing he said to our cooks yesterday is: let yourself be listened to. "Create this blessed system between chefs, restaurateurs, gourmets and journalists and let your voice be heard, beyond individualism and with the strength of a cohesive group".
I have had the trouble of bringing you back a little of all the issues addressed in the two and a half hours of the round table, now it's up to you.
Have any important aspects been left out? Do you agree or disagree with someone in particular? What would you have said to Minister Bray on the subject?
We listen to you.
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