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So Wine

Giuseppe Vaccarini: a brilliant sommelier

By 03/04/2019April 22nd, 2020No Comments

Marchesi described him like this in a chapter of his book; they met in 1977 and worked closely for many years: “The chef liked champagne but decided to drink water to have a palate always clean”

It was 1978 when an Italian lad of only 26 years won the title of World’s Best Sommelier, setting a never-beaten record. Determined by nature and a “student” of Jean Valenti (Italian sommelier card No. 1 and founder of the first trade association in Italy in 1965), that boy was Giuseppe Vaccarini. However, how was his relationship with Gualtiero Marchesi born? “He found me in Great Britain in 1977: he was about to open his restaurant in Via Bonvesin de la Riva in Milan and he wrote me a long letter describing his philosophy of catering. I accepted with the clause to start after my participation in the world sommelier competition, which I won in 1978 “. Thus began the story of Giuseppe Vaccarini, who was a strong ally of Marchesi in spreading the reimagining of Italian cuisine and the way of conceiving the restaurant, including the sommelier profession. Less than a year later, Marchesi wanted Giuseppe to be the first Maître, then promoted to director, thanks to his skills, knowledge and experience at his young age. They have changed many things together: “I refer, for example, to the entry of the chef into the hall, who was until then relegated to the kitchen. Or to the publication of the first cookbook written by Marchesi as a chef, but also to the creation of the association Le Soste … It was an intense diplomacy job for me to arrange the meeting of Marchesi with Franco Colombani in the famous Albergo del Sole in Maleo“. At that time, the two chefs were on opposite gastronomic positions. Marchesi promoted nouvelle cuisine, while Colombani was head of a group from Cremona and Mantua that used to spread and defend the Italian cooking line. That meeting was the basis for the creation of Le Soste. About Marchesi‘s first book production, entitled “My new great cuisine”, Giuseppe recalls: “I worked intensely, so much so that in a chapter dedicated to me, the chef calls me” my brilliant sommelier”. A great gratification!” Vaccarini continues: “I was struck by Marchesi‘s immense gastronomic culture combined in an intelligent way to the art of painting and music. The works of great artists and the philosophies of the great chefs, elaborated according to his concepts of balance of colours, taste, finesse and freshness of the raw material, inspired his dishes. He made an exasperated search of raw material. I used to live outside Milan and he often asked me to go to a farmer to pick up live frogs for his stew, or to collect fresh foie gras and oysters at the airport or salmon coming from Norway. All products that were rare at that time”.

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