Born in Milan on March 19th, 1930, Gualtiero Marchesi, was the great master who invented the Italian haute cuisine in a country accustomed almost exclusively to taverns in the seventies and eighties. On December 26th, he died in his home in Milan, surrounded by the love of his family.
His parents ran a hotel restaurant in Milan and it was there that he had his first experiences in the kitchen, before training in France and Switzerland. When he returned to work in his parents’ restaurant, he prepared traditional recipes for lunch, but in the evening was let free to experiment and to develop his avant-garde cuisine. In 1977, after working in Paris, Dijon, and Roanne, he opened his first restaurant in Via Bonvesin de la Riva, in Milan, where, in 1985, he was the first Italian to obtained three Michelin stars, thanks to his vision of a ‘total kitchen’: from dishes to service, from crockery to tablecloths, everything contributes to the dining experience – an innovative and revolutionary way to conceive catering for the time. In 2008, he was also the first chef in the world to return the three coveted Michelin stars “I’ve had enough with scores. – he said at the time – From now on, I’m only accepting comments.”
Of the many awarded that he collected in his career, he was especially proud of the one that he received in 1990 by the French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, who awarded him the honor of ‘Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’, because for the first time the culinary art was officially recognized as a part of the cultural sphere.
In 2004, he opened the most important gastronomic university in Italy, ALMA, which offers the first international master’s degree in Italian cuisine. “A birth and a fatherhood”, he defined it when, a few months ago, he announced to leave the role of dean to devote himself to the project of the retirement home for chefs that will open in Varese in autumn 2018 – one of his dreams inspired by one of his idols, Giuseppe Verdi, who founded one for musicians in 1889.
In May 2017, Marchesi and director Maurizio Gigola presented at the Cannes Film Festival the documentary film that recounts the maestro’s life and genius, ‘Marchesi: The Great Italian’.
Ilona Catani Scarlett