In talks with: Carlo Cracco
Carlo Cracco is the leader of the new generation of progressive Italian cuisine. He is universally acclaimed for his innovative take on classic Italian foods, combining the Milanese tradition with modern tastes and aesthetics. He searches for new ratios and combinations of textures and flavours from everywhere in the world. Then he adds his genius sense for flavour, whilst never forgetting his Italian roots.
Cracco began his professional career in the kitchen of Gualtiero Marchesi in Milan, the first Italian restaurant to be awarded 3 Michelin stars and the home of Italian nouvelle cuisine. Cracco continued his gastronomic education under the talented hands of Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo and Alain Sanderens at the Lucas Carton in Paris. In the following years Cracco honed his culinary skill across Italy, becoming Head Chef at L’Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, which earned 3 Michelin stars under his management, then joining Gualtiero Marchesi in collaboration at L’Albereta in Lombardy, before finally opening his own restaurant Le Clivie in Piedmont.
In 2000, the Stoppani family, owners of the famous Peck marketplace in Milan, invited Cracco to open a new restaurant called Cracco Peck. Within three years it had obtained 2 Michelin stars and in 2007 Cracco took over the restaurant himself, renaming it Ristorante Cracco.
The latest addition to the Cracco’s group of restaurants is his 2014 opening in Milan: Carlo e Camilla in Segheria (“Carlo and Camilla in the sawmill”). This bistro’s playful name refers to Carlo himself and to Camilla (of the British Royal family) in segheria, as the restaurant in fact is located inside a former “sawmill” in the Navigli.
Cracco, regarded as one of the top Italian Chefs in the world, has also been starring on Masterchef Italy since 2011 alongside Joe Bastianich and Bruno Barbieri and in 2014 became the host of Hell’s Kitchen Italy.
“It’s not enough to just be influenced by the best, to become an amazing chef it takes character, the desire to learn, determination and sacrifice.”
London has recently opened its first zero-wastage restaurant where all ingredients are sourced from local organic supermarket leftovers. What is your view on restaurant wastage and what is the situation like in Italy today? In today’s climate we are thinking more and more about this subject. It’s so important. It makes me think about the Refettorio Ambrosiano [It was born as an initiative conceived by Massimo Bottura and Davide Rampello to bring together for the first time the world’s best chefs with the aim of offering food with art and culture values], where those in need are served food using the still in good shape leftovers from supermarkets and restaurants. Even on Masterchef Italy we never waste the leftovers, everything not consumed gets taken to local food banks.
You have spent many years working with ‘Master’ chef Gualtiero Marchesi. What has his influence taught you? I started out my learning through Gualtiero Marchesi. It was my path into the world of high cuisine. Of course it’s not enough to just be influenced by the best – to become an amazing chef it takes character, the desire to learn, determination and sacrifice.
You are currently a judge on Masterchef Italy. What has this experience taught you? In terms of personal discovery, not much, as I already knew much of it already but in terms of others I have learnt a lot. I have met many incredibly talented individuals along the way who are following their dreams and have a hunger to learn.
Which chefs do you admire? Who in particular in your opinion is breaking barriers with their cuisine? I admire chefs who love what they do and do good work. I admire my colleagues such as Massimo Bottura, Davide Scabin and many of the others who are “breaking barriers” looking to get out of their comfort zones, taking Italian cuisine abroad.
What is the future of Italian cuisine? We still have a long way to go. We need to create a place for ourselves in world cuisine as they have in France and in Spain, for example. I am very confident that we will: we have some of the best ingredients in the world so it is all possible.
Translated by Isabel Carmichael
March 31st 2016