From L’Albereta to Enoteca Pinchiorri, to Peck, probably the best gastronomy in Italy. But where did Luca De Santi, 32, start out, and where does he want to go?
Tell us about yourself…
My first class at school was by a pastry chef and so I just fell for it. I was fascinated by the precision and by the technique. I work with lievitati, it's an ingredient that doesn't follow out rythm, it has it's own way. At 17 years old I was doing seasonal work like everyone and then got the chance to start working in the Orient Express chain: I worked at Venice Simplon, Splendido at Portofino where I learnt the basis of my job, good and simple with great teachers. Many banquets, breakfasts. Then I had the chance to go work for Gualtiero Marchesi at L'Albereta, in 2002-2003 with Berton and I found a totally diffent pace, the one of the restaurant. And also the art of placing the dessert on a plate. You have 4 ingredients you have to make work and then display on a plate. In 2006 I started with Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence and I worked there for 5 years. I will never forget that experience and the people who contributed to it being so special: Italo Bassi, Riccardo Monco, Giorgio Pinchiorrri, and his wife Annie Feolde. I am pretty sure I will never see in my entire life such an organised, perfect, personal cuisine. It is almost moving: they welcomed me at 26 and they "seasoned" me like a good cheese. But after that time I needed a new challenge and so here I am, back in the laboratory, at Peck in Milan. It is a new life: we wake up early and we finish earlier than a restaurant. I just designed a new line of croissant, I am now working on macarons.
In the future what do you see?
I hope to see more sharing, more cohesion. We need to shelter who we are and help each other between chefs. Let's take example from France and Spain. And I really hope there will be more young people with willingness to work hard.
What do you like of Italy?
Everything! Sun, sea, even Milan. I have traveled it pretty well and a piece of my heart is in Liguria, another one in Florence, now it is in Lombardy. I am from Veneto but I like Trentino. I love the people in Italy. I have worked a year and half in Portugal but it wasn't the same at all.
The ingredient that is always in your fridge?
Soy sauce. It's fun, you can cook many things with it.
Can you give us a quick recipe?
Cremoso nel bicchierino
40 gr egg yolk
20 gr sugar
85 gr milk chocolate
50 gr milk
150 gr milk cream
Mix the sugar, the yolks, the milk and milk cream in a bain-marie, like you would do with an English sauce (controllare), when it reaches 82 C degrees you take it off the heat and add the milk chocolate and stir very well. Let it cool with cling-film in contact with the surface of he mixture (to avoid a skin forming). Serve in a small glass.
Interview by: Elisa della Barba
A special thanks for Luca's portrait to: Identità Golose