Salone del Gusto is an amazing experience regardless if you are a first-timer or a veteran. There is so much to do and see and so little time. If I booked less classes I could probably dedicate more time to seeing stands (I saw them all albeit very quickly), but who I am kidding? The first time I booked 15 workshops and this time I booked 25! Complete madness and completely worth it.
The education activities can be divided into 4 main categories:
- Taste Workshops revolve around a panel of experts on a specific topic. These include tasting sessions (usually food and alcohol pairings) and discussions regarding the topic or product at hand.
- Meetings with the Makers is a forum where you can hear directly from the creators of wines, beers and other products while learning about their history, careers and interesting anecdotes.
- Master of Food is a new category that involves hands-on activities with themes of horticulture or cooking without waste.
- (and my personal favorite) Theater of Taste is a special place where chefs are placed center stage to they show their personalities, philosophies and techniques. There are cameras, large screens and dishes that tantalize…
Being nice pays off every once in a while. I was ushered into the theater for two classes I did not even book. For those of you who are counting, that brings my total workshop count to 27 in 5 days (can we check to see if that is a record?)! Taking full advantage of the complimentary classes, I followed my usual protocol of note-taking and post-workshop networking.
I sat in with the audience attending Fulvio Pierangelini’s performance. It was interesting to sample a dish that was created over 2 decades ago that left its imprint on the gastronomic world. Fulvio’s philosophy is to find and work with the best ingredients and elevate them as best you can without changing their natural appeal. He prefers to work with women, because he says cooking is in their blood. His flawless execution of passantina di ceci con gamberi was lovely.
I also witnessed the presentation from Don Alfonso restaurant. A family legacy that continues strong after 42 years. Ernesto Iaccarino and his team shared a beautiful rose petal infused pasta with an herb pesto, eel ice cream and caviar. I know what you are thinking…eel ice cream??? It was unexpectedly delicious. The second dish was an enchanting concoction they called naked ravioli. Think how wonderful it would be if you didn’t have to get through all the pasta to get to the filling…it was heavenly (although for the record, “clothed” ravioli done well is also amazing).
Apart from both of these theaters, there was another that I actually booked and enjoyed quite a bit. The theater was hosted by Vittorio Fusari, a chef and a romantic. His dishes were a perfect representation of why you should care what the meat you eat, eats. He prepared sheep based dishes, all exquisite. We sampled breast fed Alpagota (also known as the sheep that wears glasses) as well as grass-fed Sambucano.
The theater is always great! The staff is an amazing group of students led by the infamous man in the white coat who will get a special post dedicated to their services coming soon. If you do nothing else when visiting Salone del Gusto, book a theater of taste, you will not regret it!
Until next time…