This year’s edition of Identità Golose and the Milano Wine and Food Festival has come to a close. I practically locked myself in for the whole 3 days of the international chef’s congress, bouncing between fascinating lectures, lessons, demonstrations by some of the world’s most celebrated chefs, not to mention all the various vendor stands and food and wine tastings. It’s always a moment of great inspiration (and way too much eating) for me. Read my post about last year’s congress here, and check out the risotto recipes I learned from various chefs here and here.
I also had the honor and pleasure of introducing Missy Robbins at Identità Golose’s accompanying event Milano Food and Wine Festival. Missy is a funny, vibrant, creative and talented American chef known for her take on regional Italian cuisine that combines the strictly traditional with a spark of contemporary.
Missy recounted some of her hilarious experiences in Italy at the beginning of her career, where she worked both in small-town, family-run trattorias and Michelin-starred restaurants. The mere 5 months she spent in the country provided her with enough experiences and stories for a lifetime.
She and Hillary Sterling (Missy’s right-hand woman and chef de cuisine at A Voce Madison) prepared handmade chestnut agnolotti with butter and dehydrated chicken livers that were an absolute knockout. The dish tasted like the recipe of an Italian nonna made with the hands of her wildly creative great grand-daughter. Don’t be fooled, Missy doesn’t have an ounce of Italian blood, only years of experience and talent. The (mostly Italian) public who tasted the dish came back to tell Missy that it was the best pasta they had EVER EATEN.
“It’s one thing to make pasta that is appreciated in New York, but to be invited to Italy, to Identità Golose to make pasta is a huge honor.” -Missy Robbins
Another foreigner who tested his luck by presenting a traditional Italian dish was the young English chef Stevie Parle, who made a show-stopping plate of gnudi I will attempt to copy at home. Gnudi are basically “naked ravioli”, a ricotta filling is rolled in flour and then boiled to produce a light, fluffy and creamy result. I’ll publish that recipe as soon as I try my hand at it.
These foreigners are remarkably dedicated to recreating a sense of “authenticity” with their take on Italian traditional dishes, while the Italian chefs are constantly seeking to create something contemporary and new. Davide Scabin made a moving and rabble-rousing appeal for the creation of a new Italian cuisine: “We have to take that step forward. If not, we’ll continue watching other countries surpass us and even take our cuisine from us. When I was young there was France and its nouvelle cuisine, then Spain came out of nowhere and passed us by, and now Northern Europe and Scandinavia are having their moment… and we’re still here with our pizza and pasta and mandolino. I’m sick of it! Enough! I want Italian cuisine to be number one in the world!”
From what I heard, saw and tasted in these last three days, there’s no doubt in my mind that Italian cuisine (both the contemporary and traditional) is number one, even when made with foreign hands.