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Skyscrapers inspire gourmet sandwiches

Famous Italian chef in homage to Milan building project

10 February, 18:57
Skyscrapers inspire gourmet sandwiches
Skyscrapers inspire gourmet sandwiches
Skyscrapers inspire gourmet sandwiches

(ANSA) - Milan, February 9 - A cutting-edge new skyscraper complex going up in Milan is the latest culinary inspiration for one of Italy's most famous chefs, who said Tuesday he was concocting a trio of gourmet sandwiches in their image.

''I already have them in here,'' said Gualtiero Marchesi pointing to his head.

Still a titan of Italian haute-cuisine at the age of 79, Marchesi said he wasn't giving away the ingredients to the three sandwiches yet, but that there would be no mistaking his inspiration once diners saw them.

The chef's model are the tree skyscrapers composing the Milan CityLife complex, an ultramodern development that has raised eyebrows in the sophisticated northern Italian city since construction began in 2007.

Built to face each other across an open park space with ponds and canals evocative of the Lombardy's lake region, the towers distinctive design have earned them the nicknames Il Dritto (the straight one), Il Curvo (the curved one) and Il Storto (the crooked one) among local residents.

The project for the complex was drawn up by a group of celebrity architects including Daniel Libeskind, who won the masterplan competition for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York.

Another big name who lent her hand to the project was Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid who also designed Rome's new 21st Century Art Museum.

Though the CityLife project has earned the scorn by conservationists who say the deconstructionist glass and steel design clashes with its older surroundings, Marchesi, a long-time resident said they deserved a sandwich homage.

The announcement of a new Marchesi sandwich stirred enthusiasm among Italian-food purists, who hoped it might serve as a gourmet answer to McDonald's new burger, the McItaly.

Though the fast-food conglomerate guarantees the McItaly is made with 100% Italian ingredients, five with European Union quality certificates, food critics have derided it as an affront to Italy's culinary tradition.

Marchesi admitted that he hadn't tried the new hamburger, but said that it sounded like a ''pretty good idea''.

''If it really is an all-Italian sandwich, that's a big step forward,'' he said.

Marchesi was the first Italian chief to be awarded the Michelin Guide's top three stars, in 1985. He is considered by many to be the pioneer of modern Italian cuisine.

He was born in 1930, the son of parents who ran the Albergo del Mercato restaurant and hotel in Milan.

After building up his reputation at his family's establishment and studying cuisine in Switzerland, Marchesi went to France, working in restaurants in Paris, Dijon and Roanne.

He later returned to Milan and opened another hotel and restaurant with his parents which he ran until 1977.

Marchesi later opened his first restaurant in the city and earned his first Michelin star within a year.

He picked up his second star the following year but it then took him four years before he earned Michelin's maximum three stars.

In 1993 he opened a new restaurant in Franciacorta, an area between Milan and Brescia where he further developed his cuisine, a mix between traditional and modern, the Ristorante di Erbusco.

Five years later he opened a restaurant under his own name in Milan which also became a cooking academy.

In 2001 he opened a restaurant in Paris and the same year he took over Rome's oldest public eating establishment, the Osteria dell'Orso, which has been operating since the 1400s.

Photo: The CityLife Design

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