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From cooking to show cooking: two chefs at the Milan design week

Fabio Groppi from TerrAcqua and Michele Cella from Basilico Tredici together for the power lunch “Architectural recipes”

What is it that transforms a cook into a chef? For sure the kitchen equipment alone does not make the difference.

This is proven by two chefs, Fabio Groppi and Michele Cella, who on April 10th will leave their own restaurants to take over the power lunch “Architectural recipes”. A by-invitation-only event organized for Milano Design Week for people in the design and build production chain, but with nary an object to put on display. Pulling the strings is PPAN, in collaboration with and L’Ingegnere Italiano (Cni), Urban Bio main partner and Viessmann main sponsor, with the support of AIM – Associazione Interessi Metropolitani and Arch Academy.

Groppi and Cella have worked together for many years, and ever since they trained together with the team manager of the Italian national chefs’ team in Verona, they have kept in touch. Every once in a while, they find the opportunity to cook together, even when their restaurants have led them to locate in different places in Italy under different owners. They share a philosophy that gives primary importance to the raw material and how it is preserved during the food preparation processes, as well as an expert use of techniques, preserving the references to tradition in highly innovative dishes.

We start from Borghetto di Valeggio sul Mincio and Treviso to conceive a report about Milan, in a location such as City Zen which was never designed for food service, with a theme to tie it all together: the cross-pollination between professions and subjects, the necessary collaboration between associated sectors, the production chain that links developers, contractors, institutions, architects, engineers, lawyers. And the project for the Cross Lam Tower, the highest tower constructed out of wood in Europe, which Urban Bio is building in Jesolo.

From these elements, Fabio Groppi, a Michelin-star chef from the TerrAcqua restaurant in Valeggio, has imagined a menu in collaboration with Michele Cella, chef at Basilico Tredici in Treviso.

«Leaving the kitchen today is not that hard: we often step outside our own environment, if only to dispel the aura of reverence around the figure of the chef», explains Groppi, underscoring how their work is determined, in every way, by the themes of the events they are preparing for.

While there are no difficulties as such, it is important to observe certain criteria even when deciding the dishes. «Spaces, equipment, and number of people influence your choices and, for example, when you are outside your restaurant, you must pay particular attention to the cold chain», notes Cella.

The theme and target of the people are two key elements, though the essential ingredient remains the raw materials

«We observe the seasons and the regional products, always», underscores the chef from TerrAcqua. He continues: «We chose to prepare a menu that brings together all the “leading” elements of the power lunch: pure matter that merges like wood and steel for the appetizers; dishes that relate to the sea to reference Jesolo and the Cross Lam Tower; the geometry and consistencies of architecture in the dessert. All with a single and precise purpose, a meal at the level of our guests».

«High quality raw materials, the use of technique and certain practical expedients that do not compromise the quality, are the ingredients with which we build our menu for each individual event, echoes Cella. So that it might illustrate the philosophy of our cuisine even when we work outside our restaurant».

The idea of a sustainable cuisine is also reflected in our events “far from home”, as in the case of the lunch during the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The dishes are therefore complemented by cutlery made of bamboo and plates made of polycarbonate, while the choice of beverage was the Molecola, a non-alcoholic cola beverage made in Italy by the Trinca food company, the Niasca Portofino drinks, typical of the Tigullio, and bottled water by San Benedetto, a company with the highest of reputations in the non-alcoholic beverage sector in Italy, according to the annual Reputation Study 2018.

Extracts, concentrations of flavours, aromatic flavours and spices. Very little cooking, replaced by technique, to avoid stressing the raw material. And a thought: to bring fine cuisine outside the restaurant without changing it.


translation by Olga Barmine

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