Masterchef S03 ep5 : Carlo Cracco, Restaurant Cracco, [Milan]
Interview with Carlo Cracco
Carlo Cracco is often credited – and occasionally derided – as being the ringleader of a small but important group of Italian chefs attempting to break away from the constraints of cooking 'traditional' food. At his eponymous Milan restaurant he creates challenging cuisine that has won him considerable acclaim from the major Italian guides and two stars from Michelin. If you're not a fan of sea urchins, snails and slugs, though, it may be one to swerve."
When the Stoppano family decided to renovate their restaurant they wanted to create a
culinary mecca. Their delicatessen kitchens were not really the same as a true kitchen of a
restaurant. They wanted to employ an aspiring young chef who had their own restaurant
to propose something new, exciting and international for Milan.
It was not until I worked with Gualtiero Marchese that I understood for the first time, what
cooking was really about. Other chefs gave me a basic understanding of working with
produce, but Marchese was the first to elevate cooking into an art form. I was 20 years old
and for the first time I understood that things were happening in the kitchen.
I then went to work for Alain Ducasse. Alain Ducasse's cuisine was basically influenced by
the regions of Liguria to the Cote D’Azure whereas Marchese re-interpreted all the Italian
regional cuisine, from the coastal regions right through to the central and the mountain
areas of Italy. Marchese and Ducasse draw their inspiration from their respective Italian
and French backgrounds.
Ducasse's cuisine is a mix between, Italian, French and Mediterranean and made in France.
It is very different. The Marchese cuisine is modern re-invigorated Italian cuisine which is
made in Italy.
In 1989 I transferred from Ducasse's Monte Carlo restaurant where he had an Italian
influence in his kitchen and went to worked at his Paris restaurant. The Ducasse Paris
restaurant is a temple of true French Cuisine and after Ducasse, I was sent to Alain
Senderen's 3-Michelin star Lucas Carton restaurant in Paris.
I found that Senderens had a very Roman influence in his cooking, because he studies and
takes recipes from books of the old Roman Empire. These antique cookbooks describe the
old flavours and techniques of the sweet and sour Roman kitchen. In those days, they
made their own Balsamic vinegar, and spiced with salt and sugar together. Senderens
discovered this and uses these Roman concepts in his kitchen.
When I started in this kitchen, my philosophy was to forget all that I had done before, not
start from scratch but try things with an open mind. If I had always seen a particular piece
of meat prepared one way, I would consider its preparation in a different way but to my
We think about dishes and do them. It is an immediate action, and we do not consider
things too elaborately. This is done quite quickly because we have to organize everything
from cooking, seasoning, plating and serving a-la-minute.
One of the main reasons I came to Milan to work with Peck was because I was assured to
have all the very best quality ingredients at my disposal.
Half of a Chef’s job is to look for the best quality produce and ingredients including wines.
Because these things were already here, it makes part of my job easier.
It is unfortunate when people experience Italian cuisine that is not cooked or prepared as
well as it should. What makes it special however, is that it is truly an international cuisine
and whether it is from the North or the South, the ingredients can be found almost
everywhere. It is always a very simple, immediate cuisine, with fresh flavors and aromas
and very different from the French way of cooking.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Carlo Cracco, Restaurant Cracco, [Milian]