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Carlo Cracco – Severity embracing the heart

Written by Monica Camozzi
Photos by Simone Angarano

Carlo Cracco needs no introduction. 5 Michelin stars achieved during a career full of experience, which began at a very young age, just 21, when he entered the forge of the ‘master’, Gualtiero Marchesi. After only 4 years, with a remarkable flair, Annie Féolde called him to Enoteca Pinchiorri and Cracco’s rise became sequential. Culinary talent and character travel on a single track, in parallel. We asked him a few strategic questions, to see if the ‘severe’ status was an inherent part of his personality. And we found out.

Chef: an attitude of the soul or a mental journey?
Let’s say you definitely start as an attitude but you complete it with soul. It takes a bit of heart, especially in the initial part. It is an attraction, a strong desire that you have and that you try to develop.

Marchesi, Enoteca Pinchiorri and then Marchesi again: what was unique about Gualtiero?
His vision, his way of seeing evolution, revolutionized cooking in Italy. He was one of the fundamental pillars from the late 70s to the 90s. He never sought approval or sharing, he went his own way and always sought quality and the idea of it. An all-round vision.

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Your professor was very strict (the one who gave you a 4), you often play the part of the ‘bad guy’: is severity a side of your personality or do you think it serves to test the real vocation of candidates?
My professor did well, he was not bad, then he gave me an 8 and always complimented me.

Severity is a game that is intended to make you understand and test the intentions of those in front of you.

Sometimes there are guys who show an attraction to cooking but then fail to see beyond it. So the 4s are useful for improvement but not only that, they are a way of understanding whether one has a real desire to continue or not.

How much do technology and chemistry play a role in the kitchen? And how much does individual genius?
Technique and technology help, because they are a great support for work and also for improvements. Then, afterwards, you have to have a palate, a taste, a rainbow of flavors.

2021, Portofino, no meat: ideological reasons or taste?
It simply didn’t come up, when you are there and experience the place you feel that the sea can give you so many products that if presented well and processed well, give you a complete panorama of the area.

Above all, the best thing is the possibility of being able to serve local fish with a very short supply chain.

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Do you like TV spectacularization or does it take away some of the authenticity? Is the real Carlo Cracco the one we see on TV?
TV, despite scepticism, has been a great vehicle for cooking. So it is not so much the spectacularization, but

the awareness of what you have and that it might be very important even if sometimes you don’t realize it.

What alchemy would you like to create after marinated egg, caramelized Russian salad and aubergine with elderberries? What attracts your imagination now?
The dish that at that moment, more than any other, represents the photograph and the direction in which you are going. So sometimes we try to take old recipes and make them current and maybe modify them.

Well, the modernity of these recipes is perhaps the new frontier.

So you don’t always insist on technique, sometimes it is better to consider what to serve, to ask yourself what people haven’t eaten yet.

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