Drogheria Milanese | Milan
Most all chefs are amazing multi-taskers, but Chef Luca Gatti of the magnetic Drogheria Milanese, brings it to a whole other level. Complimenti, chef.
A relatively new concept by Luca and his partner, Andrea Meoni, of the already buzzing Joe Cipolla and Seven Restaurant group, Drogheria has become a go-to spot for the well heeled Milanese locals that want authentic Italian, re-invented. Chefs like Gatti are aways my favorite to play along with in the kitchen – he doesn’t seem to be phased by chaos, and even seems to find his groove in it. With a spatula in one hand, a pan handle in the other, and a phone nestled under his chin, he maintains a steady and controlled vibe. He’s a laid back guy but serious about flavor. From the small pat of lard he tucks into the fresh Piemontese beef, to the amazingly simple, but spectacular dehydrated red bell peppers from Puglia, everything he makes has a touch of hedonism.
CGC: Why are you a chef?
LG: I’m a chef because I like to cook and because I like to make people happy. I also like to always be creating something new, like a new concept or a new restaurant. From when I was young my parents had a place at the sea and I passed my time cooking in the kitchen. Little by little you grow into this and I eventually went to a school for hotel and restaurant management.
CGC: In your opinion, what’s the difference between being a “chef” and a “cook?”
LG: The difference, I guess you could say, is that a chef finds something new to present, something different in respect to what’s already been done.
CGC: How would you describe your cooking style?
LG: I’m not looking to be a michelin-starred chef but to start from the quality of the ingredients because really, doing something simple can often be the hardest. Working with the best base ingredients and doing as little as possible to alter them where you can sense the original taste of the ingredients themselves is the best way to go.
CGC: Right now you’re doing small plates, which is definitely a global trend but you have a particular way of expressing them that is very Italian, how do you do it?
LG: It’s about the selection, the search for exactly the right artisan or producer, like finding just the right mozzarella. I mean, for example, I’ve been looking for a particular type of prosciutto for that I’m still searching for. It’s difficult since everybody sells prosciutto, but I but I want something specific. Even with the small pizzas we sell we use a specific type of yeast that we carefully chose.
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CGC: What do you think of the Milan food scene? Is it changing? If so, how?
LG: The attention to food is absolutely growing here in Milan. It can be good and bad. You find a lot of places that always do the same things, like meat and fish, but my partners and I are always looking to do something new and we incorporate influences from around Europe, even in the design of the restaurant, like the seating at the bar.
CGC: You guys have an open kitchen, why did you make this choice?
LG: I think it’s nice to see people preparing your food. Also if something was going to be prepared poorly, it probably isn’t something they would want you to see, you know?
CGC: If you could cook for anyone in the world who would it be?
LG: I don’t know, I would cook in the same way for anyone. I really like cooking for my fiancé, it makes me happy, but I would cook the same for the pope as I would for her.
CGC: Guilty food pleasure?
LG: I eat everything. I like internal organs (sweetbreads), brains, tripe…and also snails!
CGC: What is always in your kitchen at home?
LG: Fish, I always have to have fish.
CGC: When you want to make something simple, quick, and good, what do you make?
LG: Bread, butter or cheese.
CGC: Who is your role model?
LG: My business partner Andrea Meoni, who is the creator of the format and with whom I opened Joe Cipolla’s. It was his formula, and I manage everything that has to do with the kitchen and the menu. He’s the type of person who does everything, from working with the kitchen architects to taking care of the plants. I’ve worked with him for 17 years.
CGC: What is something people should know about you?
LG: I’m a simple guy and dynamic, I like to make people happy.
CGC: Any upcoming projects/collaborations?
LG: There are some new openings we’re working on that are coming up in the next year, of course here in Milan, then one in London and another possibly in Rome.
CGC: We have our eye on up-and-coming [new talent] in the kitchen and we noticed you have a strong sous chef by your side, what do you have to say to the younger generation interested in the kitchen?
LG: It’s hard to find an established chef to carry out your vision so it’s great to find younger talent and train them, then in time to see them mirroring what you’ve taught them. We look to nurture young people in our restaurants that share our vision and see them go on to manage their own restaurants. To tell you the truth, I don’t actually see a lot of young people with that drive and passion and sacrifice it takes.
CGC: Who would be your dream designer chef whites?
LG: Armani wouldn’t be bad!
CGC: What artist/designer/musician inspires you?
LG: I like to listen to classic Italian music in the kitchen.
CGC: What do you like to do in your spare time?
LG: When I’m free I dedicate my time to my kids, I have twins that are two years old.
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