Where do you come from chef? I’m Italian from Calabria. I was born in a town called Piscopio near Vibo Valentia a sea port town where I lived up until 2000 when I relocated to Siena in Tuscany. I stayed there for eleven years. Currently I am living in Brazil with my son and wife. How did you get acquainted with the sea? Well thanks to a good friend of mine. Back in May 1996 Captain Paolo Marino rings me up and asks me if I want to work through the summer season on a 24 metre chartered yacht! I’ll never forget that experience which led to a second season as well, and that got me started as crew and cook. Your training? In the beginning I was self taught but I soon went on to assist a grand chef and friend of mine Michele Sorrentino who was working out of the Botteganova in Siena, then with only one Michelin star award. After that I went on to attend several advanced courses at the Gambero Rosso situated on the premises of the Città del Gusto di Roma. I’m currently keeping abreast of things culinary through on line web sites, this is a field where there’s always something more to learn... Which are your first recollections of what went on in the kitchen? My initial reminiscences go back to childhood, to the smells and unmistakeable pleasant whiffs of what my mother was cooking while I would run up to her to look at what she was in the process of preparing, evidently with unabashed spontaneous and artistic interest. In fact in my early teens I went to art school as I enjoyed painting as well.then at about 24 I discovered I had a passion for cooking which led me to open up Lo Zodiaco a small concern in Vibo Valentia which offered pizza and beer essentially, in fact it is still very active today. Your initial experiences at sea? As mentioned beforehand I began thanks to my good friend and captain out of Vibo Marina where I worked for six seasons on ”Dolphin” then on “Sea Weaver” another yacht for charter, but my most formative and accomplishing experience in this field was the five year stint I did on M/Y “TRIBU” sailing here and there around the globe. Preceding experiences as Chef ? As already said an important one was no doubt thanks to the place I had in Vibo Valentia which we later expanded into a bar and restaurant. Then in Siena I worked for several restaurants. How is working on board different to working on land? We’re looking at two distinct and totally different realities. On land you generally have a team to work with to whom you delegate and organize accordingly. You have a menu for the given season which translates into preparing the same dishes for three months at a time, albeit with a number of daily improvements even. On board of yachts up to as much as fifty metres you are alone most of the time and must think of everything from orders to stowing there’s no one to delegate anything to. You must cater for lunches and dinners for the crew and guests, which also means special requests and personal diets. Furthermore on yachts you have to astonish guests as much as you possibly can. Which are your current cuisine’s main features? Basically it is definitely very Italian. It is often labelled as “Mediterranean Cuisine” but with a pinch of innovation and personalisation of some of
the recipes which can make several dishes truly unique. Your preferred recipe? My favourite is fish cooked with a thick crust which can be made of sea salt, bread, potatoes, zucchini, dried fruit and citrus fruit leaves. Which are the basic ingredients you prefer? I very much like to cook fish and fresh vegetables very briefly and scented with herbs. My favourites are thyme, rosemary, laurel leaves and possibly fresh oregano all preferably from Southern Italy since their flavour and scent is clearly much more intense. Your preferred dishes are the ones you prepare for the ship owner or those dedicated to charter parties? The dishes I deliver to charter parties are more stimulating to prepare. I am always looking to create new ones; at the same time though, everything becomes more demanding and also stressful at times, but it’s more gratifying and gives me great satisfaction. The worst thing that happened to you as Chef? While I was living in Siena I’d often put in extra hours in a catering company and one morning at three a.m. well before dawn, we set off for Perugia to cater for 220 guests invited to lunch following a wedding and 130 for dinner. The chosen premises were really beautiful but the area in which to install the kitchen was a building site on which a house was being built. There were cement bags everywhere and heaps of dust. To stop the cement dust from rising we decided to wet the flooring almost continuously. It was all very stressing and fatiguing but in the end all went very well. Nevertheless that was a traumatic experience I still remember distinctly. Where do you purchase the goods you require, fresh products and out of the ordinary ingredients you need for the dishes you prepare? Finding what’s generally required in the Mediterranean is no problem whatsoever, there are several suppliers readily available at all times. I’ve been placing orders as of this year with Plusmarine situated in Genoa. They deliver quality, are capable of finding prime raw material with short notice, in a nutshell we have a good working relationship. Still I haven’t dropped my old habit of deploying the services of several local markets as over time I’ve gotten to know the ropes and the network of people working this sector.
Sixty works by Monet (18401926) coming from the Marmottan Monet Museum are currently exhibited at the Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome up until January 28th 2018. The curator of the exhibition Marianne Mathieu ranges from the artist’s renowned caricatures representing some of his most significant early works carried out in his late teens to the paintings dedicated to Water lilies and Wisteria in his Giverny garden where he spent most of his last decades. The exhibit comprises works performed during his frequent trips to London, Paris, Le Havre,vétheuil, Pourville and several portraits of his children. “A unique exhibition, since the works exhibited are not ‘only’ paintings by Claude Monet, but are those he was personally very fond of, those he kept all his life in what was his last property in Giverny – tells Marianne Mathieu – this is more of a voyage into Monet’s life, in his things, in his idea of a garden. When he first moved into the house in Giverny in 1883 there was nothing else but an orchard around it, there was no garden to speak of, no flowers. It took Monet many years to transform it. While work remained in progress in the garden, he’d often travel through France and as far as Italy looking for ideal landscapes and material to paint on canvass but always “en plein air “.His passion for drawing began early when just a boy. “I used to draw wreaths on the margins of the pages in some of my books and I would usually decorate the blue covers of my exercise books with fantastic ornaments or with irreverent cartoons and extreme caricatures of my teachers”. Meeting Boudin proved to be a decisive turn around in Monet’s training. Boudin passed on to him love for painting outdoors in the open air: “He studies, learns to see and draw, to paint and create landscapes”. Boudin persevered in his teachings relentlessly. “My eyes finally opened wide while I began to understand and love nature for what it is. I analysed nature’s shapes and I reproduced them with a pencil and studied its colours and diverse hues attentively”. All of these aspects played an important role in Monet’s evolution as a painter and father of impressionists. Meetings with Alfred Sisley, Jean Frédéric Bazille, Gustave Courbet and more especially with Pierre-auguste Renoir who was at that time just beginning as an artist wrote:“i spend much of my time with Monet. We often don’t know where our next meal will be coming from. However I’m happy all the same because as far as painting goes Monet is wonderful company”. Impression is officially born in Paris in Nadar’s photo studio situated in 35 Boulevard des Capucines on 15th April 1874, where thirty artists including Monet, Dégas, Cézanne, Boudin, Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Renoir and Sisley exhibited their works for the first time. It was then that Monet and his peers adopted the term “Impressionists”. With a touch of provocative irony they accepted the adjective thrown at them by Louis Leroy which he had coined to be denigrating and which paraphrased the title of one of Monet’s paintings Impressione, levar del sole.” Ah, here, it’s here! What on earth does this canvass represent? Look at the catalogue”.“impressione, sole nascente”.“impressive I am sure.yeah and some impression in that canvass. And what a liberty! and with such a free and easy way of painting! Unfinished painted wall paper is detailed better than this! Leroy was not the only one; Albert Wolff commented: “the only impression these impressionists convey is comparable to that of a cat stepping along a piano’s keyboard, or that of a monkey with a boxful of coloured crayons in its hands”.in the group supporting though, Jules-antoine Castagnary, while accepting the neologism referred to im-
pressionists, wrote: “They are impressionists for the way in which they do not represent landscapes the same way, but in the heartfelt emotions raised and impressed by the landscapes themselves.this special term has stepped into and is part of their language. From this point of view reality has been left behind giving way to pure idealism.the difference therefore between impressionists and their predecessors is a matter of something extra and something less than the finished work. The object which is to be represented is indeed the same, but the tools deployed to translate it into image have been modified”. As for Paul Mantz the impressionist was: “a sincere artist, freed from formal procedures who has been affected by short lived fashionable sophistication but due to his heart’s candour is completely fascinated by nature and translates the overwhelming intensity it evokes, in all simplicity and with the greatest possible frankness”. As far as Edmond Duranty is concerned: “Discovering impressionists mainly consists in having recognised that big light discolours hues, that the sun’s rays bouncing off objects tend, for the sake of clarity, to return to that bright shiny source which melts the seven prismatic rays into a single colour free ray which is light. From intuition to intuition and little by little they have come to breakdown sunlight into rays and to recompose its
wholeness through the projected harmony of its iridescence spread onto painted canvass”. Guy de Maupassant contributed with the following words: “In the course of this last year I have been following Claude Monet in his quest for ‘impressions’ to paint. He wasn’t a painter as such, he was a hunter. He would go about with a team of young carriers – children - clutching even half a dozen works revealing the same subject scene in different moments of the day and with diverse shades and light, according to the position of the sun. He would take them up again to modify this or that detail of the sky as it changed. He would at times pause for the sun to reappear from behind a cloud and cast a deeper shadow while with few strokes of the brush he would fix the sun ray as it reappeared, or a windswept passing cloud.... He would look upon falseness, and with what is convenient, with contempt. Monet was quick to execute piercing brush strokes onto canvass...i saw him capture a spot of light on a white rock and pin it to it in yellow. Strangely the strokes conveyed the fleeting effect of an ungraspable sun beam. Another time with cupped hands he took rain water up as it hit the sea and threw it quickly at the canvass he was working on. And indeed it was rain he was wanting to paint as it veiled the sight of the waves in the sea, rocks and the sky too which could hardly be discerned during that rainstorm.” Monet used painted shapes as a pictorial vehicle by which to translate the interest he nourished for the radiation of light: natural light. In fact Monet painted outdoors in the open. The reply he proffered to Emile Taboureux a journalist who asked if he could visit his studio is self explan-
atory: “My studio! I have never had a studio and I fail to understand why we should close ourselves in a room” he then went on to point an index finger at the river Seine, the sky above them and Vétheuil village in solemn fashion while adding: “Here’s my studio”. But according to Gustave Geffroy: “You just had to see Claude Monet in Giverny, to be able to say you know him, his personality, his love of life, his inward nature. For he who has conceived and made this small universe which simultaneously exudes family feel atmosphere and is truly magnificent is a great, grand artist”. “Since the colour scheme he created as backdrop to that of the flowers was even more precious more moving than the flowers themselves. Even when a kaleidoscope oozing with vigilant, changeable and yet silent happiness would fill with dusk light as some far away ports do at the close of day, the colour scheme would sparkle almost from beneath water lilies in late afternoon with hues of changing dreamy red pinks preceding sunset – which incarnate that which is deepest, most fleeting, most mysterious with that which is infinite- seemingly it was as if potted flowers had bloomed under an open sky, where watery beds of flowers mingled with tender water lilies the Master had painted onto sublime canvasses. They’re very much like a first but delightful take of life”. (Marcel Proust) “Bernheim talked to me about an enormous and mysterious decorative element, the painter is currently working on and is one he’d probably like us to see..... he leads us along the paths lining his garden rows till we reach a newly completed studio resembling a village church. Inside there’s a single huge room with a glass roof. A dozen or so paintings line the floor forming a circle. They’re all about two metres across and one metre twenty high. Our eyes fill with water lilies, light and sky. There’s a sense of infinite continuity between water and sky with no beginning or end. We felt as though we were witnessing the first hours of the world’s creation.the sight of this is wholly mysterious, poetic, enchantingly unreal, which delivers a strange sensation, a mixed feeling of unease and pleasure triggered off by the surrounding water”. ( René Gimpel) Art critic François Thiébault-sisson comments his visit to Giverny as follows: “On entry my eyes opened wide as I marvelled at the sight before me. As for the effect the colour scheme had on me, it was literally outstanding. The artist’s delicate way of distributing colours allowed purple hues and yellows, amethysts and pinks, violets and mallow to stand out in perfect harmony on a light or dark almost black base enriched with touches of green. The water lilies in the calm water of the pond seemed to rest upon their wide flat base leaves as they lifted up their corollas contoured by green domes while the centre of the composition was nearly always empty, but in a very relative way since it represented the painter’s chosen spot onto which he concentrated the core and play of reflecting light on shiny, calm, rippled, or slightly wavy water in the pond. There in that very spot the viewer could see the reflection of a small cluster of clouds as if suspended in the pink or fire red sky above, it was also easy enough to discern fog like strands lift and dissolve into mist at dawn. Another painting and the whole scene sparkles with sunlight at the close of day – sunsetand the beams of golden light are like rivers flowing along a pearl grey and turquoise sky. Everything was incredibly powerful and sumptuously rich underscored by intense colours oozing with life”. We wish to end this brief excursus with a few lines borrowed from Amédée Ozenfant’s Memoirs (painter and art writer).“monet dedicated the last few years of his life to a playful series of water lilies. When I saw him I marvelled at the fact that I caught myself raise my hat to him, to the man, who had achieved all of this and had painted them. When a painted canvass delivers such instinctive reactions, there is no way of trying to deny: Monet’s work is noble and powerful”.