FEATURES » Chef Gualtiero Marchesi RIP

Chef Gualtiero Marchesi RIP

The legendary chef, Gualtiero Marchesi, died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 87, in Milan, his native city.

Milan is going to dedicate a street to the famous chef who was the first Italian to gain three Michelin stars, in 1985. In his first restaurant, located on the central Via Bonvesin de la Riva in Milan, Marchesi invented his famous saffron rice with edible gold leaves and “Open Ravioli,” that features ravioli filling used as a condiment for pasta. He also created the “Fish Dripping,” a fish dish inspired by Jackson Pollock’s drip-style painting technique.

In 2004, Marchesi established “Alma – the International School of Italian Cuisine”. The school is located close to Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region. 

He was named “Knight of the Italian Republic” and not only he was the first Italian to receive the three Michelin stars, but also the first to return them, in rejection of the Michelin rating system, stating that he wanted to receive comments and not scores. 

Marchesi worked for the family hotel restaurant up to the age of 47. After working and studying cuisine in Switzerland, he returned to the family business, cooking both traditional food and his own inventions. He opened his own restaurant in 1977, quickly becoming one of the most serious and original chefs in the country. In his conception of cooking Italian cuisine was much more than pasta and rice and therefore initially he did not include them his menus. He was widely criticized for this radical choice.

The big turning point in his life was his passion for Nouvelle Cuisine which was all the rage in France and was due to change his life and Italian cooking.

In Marchesi’s restaurant in Bonvesin della Riva street in Milan totally new dishes were presented for the first time. 100% Italian ingredients were served in small portions with a new presentation in a minimal and elegant environment. Marchesi’s cuisine was defined “a gastronomic revolution”. It was originally an Italian interpretation of the nouvelle cuisine becoming then something more essential, personal and different. Marchesi combined art and taste. He believed that dishes were pieces of art. For this reason he dedicated his fish dripping to Jackson Pollock, his egg dish was dedicated to Burri and the creamed risotto with a scent of white and black truffles was inspired by the poetics of the painter Hsiao Chin. Also the 4 pasta was a homage to the serial inventions of Andy Warhol, and the “Achrome di branzino” was a tribute to his friend Piero Manzoni.  

Marchesi believed cooking was an exact science, like physics and chemistry. Therefore, each dish couldn’t differ, also from the esthetical point of view. He used to realise a sample of each dish to be photographed so that his cooks would always make it in the same way. 

Many Italian talents were formed in his kitchen: Carlo Cracco, Davide Oldani, Andrea Berton, Enrico Crippa, Paolo Lopriore, Pietro Leeman, Ernst Knam, Riccardo Camanini, Daniel Canzian and many others.  

Marchesi was very critical about television, reportedly he said “it has ruined cooking, the chef doesn’t work at the circus” he also said “what is beautiful also tastes good”.  

The "total restaurant, an idea which is now commonplace was pioneered by him in the 1980’s. That is, the table settings and service must be stylistically coordinated to contribute to the overall dining experience.

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