To say that Chef Carlo Cracco has been there and done that is no understatement and it is little wonder that he is often referred to as Italy’s most famous Chef.
Hell’s Kitchen – Check. MasterChef Italia – Check. Michelin star – Check. Netflix – Check. Well, we are talking of one person who has achieved all this and more. Meet Chef Carlo Cracco who began his professional career working with Gualtiero Marchesi in Milan, the first Italian restaurant awarded with three Michelin stars in 1986. For the next three years he worked with Alain Ducasse (Hotel Paris) and Lucas Carton (Paris, Senderens). He has also worked in the Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence and helped the restaurant get awarded with three Michelin stars. His stint with MasterChef Italia, the well-known television reality show for aspiring chefs started in 2011 along with Joe Bastianich and Bruno Barbieri. He has also host on the first and second seasons of Hell’s Kitchen Italia on the channel Sky Uno and is currently one of the senior chefs on Netflix’s new culinary competition show The Final Table.
As owner if the eponymous fine dining restaurant Ristorante Cracco in Milan he is known for what is called ‘progressive Italian cuisine.’ Chef explains, “this is about the preservation of our heritage, instilling old world traditions into our everyday modern lives. Truly embracing our Italian culture and heritage but being innovative at the same time. I personally think that cooking does not need addition or alteration but it should be as simple as possible, since the main thing is the taste and substance.” Incidentally Chef is known for art of reinventing traditional cuisines without losing its true nature and admits that reinventing classics is a well-known design strategy used in many fields. “In the same way, chefs create new dishes, recombining the old components by introducing new elements, mixed with creativity and innovative technologies. Like an alchemist, to bring the best from the past into the future. This reinterpreting of tradition is a key process in the culinary world.”
Being Italy’s most celebrated Chef the question then is what he thinks of Italian fare served in India. “In my opinion there are similarities between Indian and Italian food in terms of tradition and importance, they are marked by regional specialties. In fact India is also known for strong regional differences and a lot of recipes are based on the family meal tradition. In Lombardy, the region where I have my restaurant, rice is well known and I use a lot of it in my cuisine and with rice being a staple in India, it makes a good connection. As far as Indian Italian food, I can say that in each country outside Italy, Italian food could be authentic but have local influences. The important thing is the quality of the food and the ingredients used for cooking the recipe.” And this is also why his take on Italian food in the Indian context mirrors the same philosophy. “It is a sharing of different tastes and traditions considering the importance of Indian culture internationally recognized and in the history of food itself.”
Today with food becoming omnipresent courtesy television and the Internet people have the opportunity to learn more about the world of professional and non-professional cooking. “Educating and making millions of people aware of the importance of cooking, attention to raw materials and taking into consideration that the future will be zero waste is also being facilitated through these channels.” Having worked in an Indian context he believes that an idea gaining popularity along with the rise of healthy eating is that of neuro nutrition or eating well for the mind. “There is growing recognition around the fact that the brain that is fed the right food can go a long way in managing moods swings, handle stress and handle the physical and emotional highs and lows of a modern lifestyle. Also Indian chefs and restaurateurs have been focusing on the experience more than food alone. What brings customers back to restaurants is the front of the house than ever before: service, staff, design and the overall experience. He succinctly summarises his journey which also has a key learning whether you are a Chef or not. “Passion for what I do every day, hard work, great collaborators and a bit of courage.” Well, certainly Chef has walked the talk and continues to inspire and lead by example.
Chef Carlo Cracco is associated with coffee major Lavazza and his innovation Coffee Lens is his iconic tribute to myopia. The Lavazza Training Center in Turin in Italy has a laboratory entirely dedicated to coffee design. Food design applied to coffee is a subject that until a few years ago did not exist and now Lavazza has turned into a real art. The coffee is mixed with a vegetable gelatin at constant temperature and is molded into the shape and consistency of a real contact lens. The final product is a special coffee that is a preserved jelly that is served in traditional authentic lens cases for a novel experience of the flavour and design of food.
This story first appeared in The Tribune Trends dated 8th Dec 2018 here: