Davide Caranchini: the gentle giant of Lake Como

What to drink with panettone
24/12/2019
Events title 05
01/01/2020

For the chef passionate about the lacustrine world, town restaurants are better than city ones and the forest is the best grocery shelf

Amongst the best 30 chefs under 30 of the Italian culinary landscape, Davide Caranchini has recently been placed by Gambero Rosso in the Hall of Fame of those “that better represent the near future of Italian cuisine.” 

He was raised on Lake Como and it is here that he returned to after a series of experiences in Europe such as at Le Gavroche in London and at Noma in Copenhagen, to cite a few. It is on Lake Como that he opened Materia – one Michelin star which has been reconfirmed at the last presentation of the Guide in Piacenza.  “One of the most original and interesting young chefs,” is how the Red inspectors described Caranchini, who is presenting himself in great shape once more for 2020. “I don’t know how the kitchen of the future will be. We are not travelling the road of simplification. With great satisfaction, I am trying to give voice to a territory which, at least from the perspective of gastrony and wine, has had very little attention so far: I challenge you to find someone that can talk about the cuisine of Lake Como.” He prefers freshwater fish, a product which is often disregarded because its potential is overlooked, over saltwater fish and affirms: “freshwater fish is very difficult to work with. A sea bass is fished, filleted, it can then be steam cooked and even with just a little bit of oil it’s delicious. A trout cannot undergo the same process. I am trying to restore the dignity of trouts.” In Cernobbio, a small town in Lombardy, Davide leads his first restaurant, where the oldest of the crew is 32 years old. Materia has revolutionised that far-away-from-the-metropolis cuisine which he believes is growing exponentially. “The real trend is to rediscover the towns that have seen us grow. I have so many friends who just like me, after having travelled the world, come back home but avoid the big cities. On top of the stronghold of tradition, this coming back home is also dictated by a lack of economic potential to open in Milan, Rome or Naples.”

The turning point of his career was the Noma. “It completely changed my life. Now the best grocery shelf has become the forest,” he says. Passionate about herbs, spontaneous cultivations and fermentations, he has also gained a greenhouse from which to obtain plants and vegetables. “I grew up in a family which has always farmed, I have never been able to see vegetables as a mere side dish.” At Materia he is able to produce 100% plant sources dishes which in no way lack proteins. For example, the menu offers a salad of grilled cabbage on a puree of sour pumpkin, with a mayonnaise with walnut oil, toasted seeds, fermented and barbeque grilled celeriac, as if it were a piece of meat, and finished with black truffle and a milk sauce and parsley. This can be found on Materia’s Green Power tasting: five fishes completely vegetable and sustainable. Starting from next year, because of official records, Davide won’t be an under 30 anymore, but we are sure that his talent will be just as bright in the next decade. 

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