ANDREA BERTON
Milanese from San Vito al Tagliamento, 45 years old, chef

MILAN HAS BECOME THE CAPITAL OF FOOD: LET’S NOT WASTE IT

by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI

ANDREA BERTON

Video 1
BEGINNING WITH THE BEST
My relationship with Milan started many years ago, in ’89. I’m from San Daniele del Friuli, I wanted to start in what was the best restaurant in Italy at the time.

GUALTIERO MARCHESI
At that time, in Italy, the most important restaurant – with three Michelin stars – was Gualtiero Marchesi’s in Via Bonvesin De La Riva, in Milan. So I left Friuli and I showed up at the restaurant without having sent a resume or having any experience: it was my first job. Marchesi allowed me to start working with him.

PAYING MY DUES AND INTEGRATION
Aware of the fact that, beginning in such an important place, I would have to commit myself to a lot of work, I was already psychologically prepared. This preparation allowed me to be able to integrate myself in the right way.

THE BEGINNING
Coming from a small town, being in the city seemed like being in another world. In those years Milan was not like today, at least I don’t remember it being so well-functioning, on the contrary: I remember it was quite disorganized and messy. Today I have to say that it is a city that 90% of the time works well.

THE MILANESI AT THE DINNER TABLE
They are prepared, fortunately, and therefore they are also demanding. I must say that over the years their taste has improved a lot, I think this has been a positive growth for us.

UNDERSTANDING MILAN
To live and work in Milan, in my opinion you must have a certain predisposition to understanding the city, because if you can understand it, if you can understand its rhythm and pace, it is a city that can give great satisfaction. If you are already prepared, you feel the city’s yours and you understand how to live the city, it becomes easier to be able to express your idea of work and professionalism. How do I define myself now? Who am I? I feel I am a Milanese from Friuli.

TIGHT PACE AND FOREIGNERS
Concerning my job, one has to enter into the mentality of the city itself, a city where you work a lot, a city that requires a very tight pace and ability to adapt to the needs of the public. Without forgetting that it is a city where today fortunately many foreigners come and therefore we must also be prepared to welcome this type of clients… My restaurant is in one of the most beautiful parts of Milan, perhaps of Europe, today it is the most modern, so there is great interest in visiting this area of Porta Nuova, the former Varesine, that has been completely redone.

THANK YOU MILAN
It allowed me to start to work at the age of 19 and to interest the city in my job. In this city I could express what my idea of cooking was, to make it popular, and especially to export it… Today I think Milan is the capital of food because several types of food are concentrated here and that perhaps don’t exist in other Italian cities.

PISAPIA’S SUCCESSOR
I think Beppe Sala is prepared to run a city like Milan, he proved it by managing the Expo impeccably.

Video 2
MEDIATIC OVERDOSE?
I believe that talking about it (cooking) is helpful. The important thing is to convey the message in the right way, then – both in practice and in theory – it is also important to communicate the quality of the product.

CHEFS AS TV STARS
It’s a good thing, the more the merrier. Because it helps spreading the knowledge of the this field.

COLLEAGUES ON TV
I don’t see them because I always work at that time: some programs I like more, other less. One, however, is not obliged to watch them…

BERTON JUDGE?
I would willingly do it.

MOSQUE IN MILAN
I believe that, if necessary, it needs to be built, even if very carefully. Although I feel that those who decide to come to Italy, and come from other cultures and other religions, must adapt to what we are, to what our country is.

EXTRA HELP
In Milan I have invested in three restaurants, so I created jobs – few or many I don’t know – and I strongly believe that when you build such companies some more recognition or extra support to facilitate the activities should be offered… in my restaurant I employed a total of 23 people.

FEAR IN THE KITCHEN
No. But I’m definitely demanding. No, I never traumatized anyone, but I believe that discipline is important in the kitchen.

SERIOUS CHEFS
Chefs take it seriously because I think that sometimes you have to be very precise, this is why they seem to take it so seriously, but in some cases they are also able to downplay…

THE 1000 SEATING DREAM
My dream? Being able to bring more and more people to the world of food and restaurants, with more and more innovative and modern solutions. Opening a restaurant where you can serve 1,000 people.

GOING ABROAD
Surely exporting to other countries. Right now let’s say, for the next few years, I will consolidate what I did in Milan, because it is quite challenging. It may be, however, that in the future there could be other openings abroad.

THE BILL, PLEASE
The value (of a meal in my restaurant) is given by the experience, and experience has a normal price for what we offer…

HOW MUCH?
The cost of the tasting menu is 120 euros plus wine that one can choose freely. Based on what you choose the bill changes, but it is a personal choice.