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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Anyone who loves cooking knows how important the element of playfulness is, an essential ingredient in creating complicity between diners and establishing a real dialog between those preparing the food and those eating it. There are many ways of expressing this playfulness: Some experiment with the choice of venue while others suggest witty or themed mise for diners or come up with new ways of presenting courses and ingredients. In this spirit of playfulness, we have prepared a very special Dinner Date for Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, based around the key theme of “identity.” Not the identity of the food, though of course the ingredients will be expressing all of their personality and characteristics, but of the five renowned chefs who will be preparing them.

This is the game: Over the course of the dinner, divided into five courses (two antipasti, two first courses, a main course and a dessert), diners will not know who prepared the dishes. Filling in a questionnaire, they will try to guess as much as possible about the creator of each dish—gender, where they are from, their age, etc.—before they meet the chefs at the end of the meal.

But we are going to give you a clue in advance in order to help you guess who these talented people might be: We asked each one to describe one or more ingredients that represent an aspect of their personality, their approach to cooking or their vision of the world of food.

Magnat ‘o limon! Eat a lemon, in dialect (guess which!) is a teasing saying that suggests making the best out of something unpleasant (when life gives you lemons, make lemonade), but for the first of our chefs it is offered as genuine advice. “Lemon is a scent that for me smells of home and family, a flavor that along with other citrus dominates my recipes, and which often simply but effectively accompanies fish, my great passion in the kitchen, in all its forms.”

Lemons make a reappearance in the answer of the Dinner Date’s second chef: “I’m choosing them primarily for their versatility, a value that I feel is mine: from the juice to the pith, the rind and even the leaves, in its small form the lemon contains many different aspects of my cooking. It is the perfect bridge between opposites, such as salty and sweet. For the same reason I also love anchovies, a humble and often undervalued ingredient, but very valuable precisely because of their many uses, and above all I love pasta, generosity in the form of food.”

Our third chef looks east, far east, to the Land of the Rising Sun, identifying their personal style with the delicate equilibriums, great formal rigor and absolute quest for esthetics of Japanese cuisine. “I love everything about it, but my passion is above all the fish. Rarely found on the family table during my childhood, whenever my mother did prepare it it was a feast for me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve surrendered to the fascination of Japanese cuisine, which interprets it in so many creative ways, using enigmatic flavors like sweet-and-sour and umami.”

Both simple and complex, mozzarella is one of the true icons of Italy’s cuisine, and it is the choice of our fourth chef. The queen of cheeses, it can appear in many guises, serving as a gentle accompaniment or taking center stage as the matriarchal star of a dish. “Along with legumes, tomatoes and oil, it is the ingredient that best sums up my culinary DNA and the knowledge that my family has passed on to me. Mine is a typical cuisine. I love to rely on simple local ingredients, seeking to interpret them with creativity and passion and to amaze and surprise.”

Last but of course not least, our fifth chef finds themselves reflected in an ingredient that transports them home: the caper. “It’s an essential element in my cooking, but also in my landscape. It comes from a difficult shrub that requires manual work, which is why it is often ignored. But even though the plant demands a lot of attention, it gives back so much, offering its shoots, a flavorful ingredient found in more than one traditional recipe from my land. They are a gift for the palate, full of character. In Turin, I’ll be offering an unusual take on the caper, which perhaps few will have imagined.”

Already have some ideas? For now we’re saying no more. Why not challenge your friends (perhaps betting a dinner), wrack your brains, see if you can work it out and, most of all, come and find out at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto!

Paolo Tosco

An Event by
 Città di Torino
 Slow Food
 Regione Piemonte
In collaboration with
With the contribution of
Official Partners
Supporters of the Terra Madre Foundation and Slow Food
With the support of

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto
Slow Food Promozione P.Iva 02220020040
© Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016 - All rights reserved