International Day of Italian Cuisines

Avanti itchefs-gcvi, something is changing!

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The international Day of Italian Cuisines was welcomed at every point of the compass. The following are commentaries, reports and testimonials of some of the itchefs-gvci celebration in different cities of the world. For the complete list of participants click here.

AMERICAS

Ivan Beacco, NYC Borgo Antico’s Chef, and Giovanni Iovine, the owner, enthusiastically joined the celebration of the International Day of Italian Cuisines. Among many others, one of their very special guests was Dr Anthony Milea of Village Sports Medicine. “He is an activist of authentic Carbonara”, says Beacco. Apparently Dr Milea regularly takes his friends to the Borgo Antico to introduce them to the genuine dish.

Francesco Farris, Chef patron of Arcodoro & Pomodoro in Dallas, Texas, organised the celebration under the slogan “Chi ama brucia”, those who love burn (calories). In other words, passion for good authentic Italian cooking may well justify every now and then a rich meal. “For a day we put aside cholesterol and dietary concerns”, says Francesco stressing that Carbonara is Italian cuisine of the poor but rich in nutrients. Let it not be forgotten that in the past a dish of Carbonara was for the Italians often the only meal of the day. Arcodoro guests of the day, among them the mayor of Dallas, enthusiastically took the authentic itchefs-gvci recipe home These are exerts from an article that appeared on January 17, in Grub Street the New York Magazine blog edited by Josh Ozersky and Daniel Manor. We reproduce it because besides some inexactness, it informs of how the International Day of Italian Cuisines was celebrated in the Big Apple. We have also included the comment of an anonymous reader that rightly explains why the article misses the most important point.

“So you think you know spaghetti carbonara? You don’t know spaghetti carbonara. That is the theme of the Italian chef coalition ITChefs – GVCI’s current campaign to educate New Yorkers about the classic dish. ITChefs – GVCI’, which stands for Virtual Group of Italian Chefs, is charging four of the city’s top Italian chefs to make it exactly according to the “authentic” recipe for one night. On Thursday, Cesare Casella of Maremma, Mark Ladner of DEl Posto, Kevin Garcia of Accademia del Vino and Ivan Beacco of Borgo Antico, will make the dish according to the master recipe approved by ITChefs – GVCI. Or will they? Like every traditional recipe in every cuisine, "authentic" Carbonara changes with every chef that makes it.

Ladner, a purist, tells us that he’s going to do the recipe by the book; but then, on closer examination, it turns out to have his own touch on it. “I use Martelli spaghetti number ten, which is a little thicker…and then instead of guanciale we use pancetta, but only half rendered out. Some people might use scallions, but that’s not really part of it. Then there’s the question of the texture of the egg. It can range from almost scrambled to an almost zabaglione-like smoothness, which is the way I do it….” Ladner went on for a while about how to execute this by the book recipe, and had us totally convinced that it was in fact the only way. But then we spoke to his friend and peer Garcia, who gave us a totally different approach to this “authentically prepared” dish: “I like regular Setaro spaghetti, with some nice guanciale. I get it crispy, and then stop the process with a little pasta water,” Garcia said. “And when I use the egg, I make sure it’s just the yolk…I like to have some scallions in there too.” We give up. There is no final definitive carbonara recipe. We just have to go around eating all the different variations, and hope that the world never runs out of them, the ITChefs – GVCI notwithstanding”.

A reader replied:
This article is missing the key-point
. It is missing what actually itchefs-GVCI is trying to do. It is simply trying to explain people what they should expect or not expect when they order an Italian dish. Is someone presenting you a Carbonara prepared with cream or crème fraîche? Well, that is not what you ordered, call that thing whatever you want but if that name is in the menu please complain, ask your money back and most important do the right thing: prevent any loved friend to seat in that place until the owner understood the lesson. Then, if your eggs are almost scrambled or just zabaione-like that is a question of interpretation. Would you prefer the Verdi´s AIDA directed by Sciolti with Leontyne Price or by Karajan with Renata Tebaldi? Does not matter, feelings are simply wonderful! This is, of course, the interpretation of an Italian living abroad since ten years, loving eating and missing is mamma!!! Avanti Itchefs-GCVI something is changing!

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In Mexico, itchefs-gvci associate Silvia Bernardini, owner of the L’invito Restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, coordinated a program of activities with the Italian Institute of Culture of Mexico City, as well as a celebration in both her restaurant and cooking school. National TV broadcast Canal 11 aired the authentic Carbonara recipe as it was cooked for the media invited by Bernardini and the Italian Institute of Culture.

Gabriele Paganelli of the Romagna Mia, Toronto- Canada had two special guests on the ICDay. The first one was Gianluigi Peduzzi, director of Rustichella Pasta d’Abruzzo, one of the most enthusiastic supporters (and sponsor) of the event, who came from Italy to visit for this special occasion. He was joined by Mr Martin Stilio, the Toronto Italian Culture Institute Director. Various Italian Institute of Culture Directors supported the celebration of the International Day of Italian Cuisines (as in New Delhi, India, and Mexico City, for example) finding it an important promotional moment for Italian culture.

“Here it went very well”, says Ruben Rapetti, Chef of the Pacific Restaurant at the Jinling Hotel, Nanjing, China. He had some American guests who were very happy to explore the taste of real old Carbonara that was new to them. "Carbonara without cream, bacon and mushrooms? Oh my God. I'll try it!" they said. Rapetti says: “Chinese clients were a bit more diffident but looked on to enjoy the novelty. Italian clients, moved almost to tears, felt obliged to order Carbonara”. “It was great; a simple, successful initiative enjoyed by all: chefs, guests and staff”, he concludes.

Gaetano Palumbo, Chef of the Rossini Restaurant at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok, Thailand, printed the itchefs-gvci official leaflet of the IDIC 2008 with Carborara’s original recipe. “We offered both as a souvenir to the almost 600 clients we had at the Rossini that day”, says Gaetano with pride.

“By coincidence I had many German clients that night”, says Andrea Sacchi, Chef of the Lan Tania at the Four Seasons Hotel Koh Samui, Thailand. “We had a fun time, with me explaining to them that in authentic Carbonara there is no cream and no parsley as they were accustomed to in Germany”.

“Here in Hua Hin the celebration went very well”, says Saulo Bacchilega, Executive Chef of the Figs Restaurant at the Hyatt Hotel, Hua Hin, Thailand. “60% of our clients wanted to try our Carbonara, which they enjoyed very much. Actually, by popular demand we now have authentic Carbonara on our daily menu”. Each customer was given the recipe and the itchefs-gvci manifesto of the International Day of Italian Cuisines.

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From Mumbai, Max Orlati, Chef of the trendy Olive Bar & Kitchen reports that the celebration in his restaurant was a great success. “Many Bollywood actors and actresses ordered Carbonara and went literally crazy about it”, he says. “I am happy because it was a great opportunity to educate our guests about authentic Italian cuisine”. The Olive has branches in New Delhi and Bangalore as well, both under Chef Orlati’s supervision.

Singapore’s veteran Carlo Marengoni, Chef of the Bologna at the Marina Mandarin Hotel is convinced that on 17.01. 08 a great tradition was started. “Not only did we have Carbonara on our menu that day, but we left it on all February, and with great success”, he stated.

“When it comes to Italian Cuisines, South Koreans may be very difficult in terms of taste”, says Sebastiano Giangregorio, Chef of the Grissini Italian Trattoria, Seoul. “So, I was a bit concerned about introducing Carbonara to the menu”, he admits. But it turned out to be a great success. “Masctà”, very tasty in Korean, was the word that the keen guests most used to describe their Carbonara.

“Carbonara is always on my menu” says Giulio Vierci who owns Giulio’s Wine Bar in Sapporo (Japan). “There are 146 Italian restaurant in town and I am the only Italian born chef, so everyday I must fight against the disinformation about Italian Cuisine”, he explains. For this reason Giulio decided to act at a more educational level: “I’ve seen Carbonara made in all imaginable manners over here; with cream, onions, parsley. So to get attention I decided to serve, on January 17, authentic Carbonara at a very competitive price; a bit over 500 yen”.

EUROPE

Silvia Caramella was the animator of the successful celebration in Seville, Spain. She organised an authentic Carbonara dinner at the Miranapoli Restaurant. “It was a wonderful experience”, says Silvia. The guests enjoyed it as well as Costantino Prisco and Arcangelo Ambrosio, the restaurant’s two young chefs. But Silvia stresses that: “The restaurant’s owners were happy too. Not only did they have a full house on a weekday but they obtained precious publicity from the event”. This was one of the objectives of the celebration: to provide those who embrace authenticity and quality with corresponding exposure.

It was a great success”, says Angelo Saracini, architect and owner of the La Dolce Vita at Santa Barbara, Athens – Greece. “Greeks eat very late so we started serving Carbonara after midnight”, he continues. For many of his customers the encounter with authentic Carbonara came as a shock”. In Greece the dish is adulterated with all sorts of ingredients: “cream, cinnamon, sugar and other ingredients more suitable for a pastry shop”, he adds. Among the Dolce Vita guests was also Mr Lambros Mikos, Santa Barbara’s Mayor, with his family.

“I had excellent feedback both from my clients and local institutions”, says Fabio Cappellano, owner of the Il Tartufo Restaurant, Delft (the Netherlands) commenting on the celebration of 2008 IDIC. “I printed the Carbonara recipe in colour and offered it to all my guests”, he adds. The dish was made with guanciale directly imported from Italy and fresh eggs from local farms. Radio stations and local media enthusiastically supported Cappellano’s commitment.

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Chefs Giovanni Grasso and Igor Macchia, of the Michelin one-starred La Credenza San Maurizio, Canavese hosted some very special guests, among them, the highly respected Italian gourmet Giorgio Grigliatti, his son Giorgio, and Claudio Sacco, the animator of Viaggiatore Gourmet alias Altissimo Ceto, possibly one the most popular blog reviewing top Italian restaurants. Grasso and Macchia proposed the traditional authentic Carbonara and presented a contemporary variation.

Giacomo Gallina, Executive Chef of the Gold Restaurant in Milan and GVCI’s Vice-President, did the same, stressing above and beyond all else the importance of defending the authentic traditional version of the dish. Chef Massimiliano Sepe, of the Casa Catullo, Fondi Latina was among the most active promoters of the International Day of Italian Cuisines in Italy. With the support of territorial authorities (Comune di Fondi, Comune di Itri) and producers (Scherzerino La Rocca) he hosted a dinner based on a superb Carbonara and typical products of the Region of Latium.

From South to North. Andrea Cristofoletto, Chef of the Hotel Claudia in S.Vigilio di Marebbe (Bolzano) proudly celebrated the International Day of Italian Cuisine under the snow of the magic Dolomites Mountains. And finally, a fine Carbonara was also a point of rally for some farmers in the Province of Brescia, heavily affected by a EU 28-day blockage of pig slaughtering. As chef Mario Fraschini recalls: “sixteen of them arrived at my restaurant very late and rejoiced at the offer of a Carbonara, accompanied by a good wine, Terre di Franciacorta DOCG, red”.