Passionate about art – which inspired many of his dishes – but above all a lover of music, Gualtiero Marchesi was the first chef in Italy to expand Italian cuisine beyond traditional boundaries.
As Massimo Bottura says in the Marchesi biopic The Great Italian (watch a trailer here above): “He looked at the past critically and brought it into the future.” He did it promoting a model of total cuisine, according to which the dish is the highlight of an experience that opens beyond the threshold and ends out of the dining room.
“My goal is always simplicity,” Marchesi was fond of saying, before to pass away December 26th, 2017. “Simplicity is only reached when one has full knowledge of the subject matter. Only knowledge allows respect for the matter, and when we respect matter we obtain simplicity.”
In addition to cooking, the Maestro was a groundbreaker in other respects. In 2008 he returned his Michelin stars although he was the first chef in Italy to obtain three (back in 1985). Then in 2011 he developed a series of hamburgers for McDonald’s which drew fierce criticism from purists of haute cuisine (“Why not have young people taste something unfamiliar?”, he said).
The grand chef was awarded in many occasions and in 2010 he created the Gualtiero Marchesi Foundation to promote different types of of art. In 2014, he promoted ALMA, the International School of Italian Cuisine, near Parma, which annually teaches more than a thousand students get from all over the world.
The transmission of gastronomic culture was so vital to him that he introduced it as one of the ten rules on being a good chef he stated in occasion of Expo Milano 2015, of which Gualtiero Marchesi was an ambassador:
“One of the tasks that bring honor to a good cook is to disseminate gastronomic culture by teaching people to eat well and properly with the food offered at the table, also by educating young people and passing the baton to those who deserve it.”
‘This is my way, so I pursue it inexorably’ – Gualtiero Marchesi