With views over the entire city skyline, this is the only restaurant in Milan that offers a real “high gastronomy” experience (in the true sense of the word). New head chef, Fabrizio Ferrari, spoke to us about his work, his thoughts on trends in gastronomy and much more.
Born in Pavia in 1965, Chef Ferrari debuted as a chef de partie at Zelata de Bereguardo. He gained great experience in France where he trained under Angelo Paracucchi of Ristorante Carpaccio at the Hotel Royal Monceau in Paris.
In 2007 he began working in a completely new territory, the Roof Garden restaurant at the Excelsior San Marco, in the heart of Lower Bergamo. The hard work there paid off in 10\0 when the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star, which it held until 2013 when Ferrari left the city.
Then came a new project in Milan, the Terrazza Triennale Osteria con Vista, where Ferrari was appointed executive chef. Finally, he wound up at Unico Milano last April. Unico’s kitchen has devised a new menu derived from Lombard tradition. Ferrari’s work here is characterized by its use of high quality raw ingredients, all carefully selected, and an innovative touch is applied in reinterpreting the roots of the regional culinary tradition.
Ciao Fabrizio, first of all thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview, and congratulations on reaching all of these milestones.
Firstly, what changed at Unico after your arrival? Can you tell us something about the Michelin star…?
In December last year I was contacted formally by Unico Milano. We immediately agreed that the most important thing for the restaurant would be to not keep doing the same thing since Unico first opened. I’m not interested in short term projects, and so we found ourselves agreeing to embark on a new adventure. I wanted to start on the sly so that the cooking would have time to develop its own character. What do I think of the Star? It’s a huge thrill for every cook. It was a great emotion when I was given a Star in Bergamo in 2010, but I also think that we as cooks, and even for the judges for the Michelin star, we’re just doing our jobs. I have not lost anything from my old life, and everything I have gained, I have earned – there have been no gifts. When we are judged to worthy, the guys and I are happy to collect the praise, but it only pushes us further.
What is your style of cooking?
I love simplicity. My kitchen mirrors my way of life. I like three words: truth, simplicity and biodiversity. I try to connect my cooking to these concepts. I love roots and history, and a lot of my cooking reflects my place of origin, in the lower valley.
What are some of the achievements you are most proud about?
I like to think that as a man, before being a cook, I manage to convey something to those around me and that by osmosis, I get something from those around me as well. I consider the connections I make with people who share the same passion as me to be an important part of life. Friendship for me is an absolute value, that has nothing to do with public relations. Today, that’s something that’s often confused.
What advice would you give to young Italians who want to follow in your footsteps?
I would tell them what I tell everyone who comes into my kitchen for the first time – “Leave the arrogance at the door, try to be humble, try to learn everything that is taught to you, think of yourself as being part of a delicate and complex mechanism, and you’ll start getting results. Help your colleagues, there are no boundaries. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help, you’re part of a team.” One percent of those to whom I’ve made this speech have understood and shared this. Marcello Baratella, the sous-chef of Unico was one of the first. I repeat the same speech to myself every morning.
What do you think about the trend of ‘healthy food’ that is popping up around the city?
I don’t like to subscribe to trends, I like people who think about what they eat and who asks questions. People are health conscious if they think about how it was grown, raised and produced and if they respect the dedication that went into it. Although I am not and never will be vegan, in my gastronomic experience, this I think is the most important thing to consider in Milan, or any other place in Italy or the world. There are manufacturers, farmers and artisans who put in incredible effort to make something amazing, and resisting the urge to just do the easies thing.Today thanks to the attention that we get, we can spread the knowledge of these techniques.
What are your personal goals for this year?
To continue on the path taken, consolidating Unico’s presence in Milan, and always being ready to learn.
How do you control the consistency and quality in your kitchen?
There’s no other way than to keep coming back and trying. Even here in the digital world, this is not enough, thank God!
What are your favorite places in Milan for the following:
Breakfast: Pandenus, for convenience the one in Melzi D’Eril.
Brunch: Ceresio 7
Lunch: Berberè, in Isola
Aperitivo: Terrazza Triennale
Drink: 1930 Speakeasy
Serata: I haven’t got to do this in a long time. My house in the country side with a few friends and a bottle of wine!
If your friend who has never been to Milan arrived in the city, where would you absolutely take them?
To Navigli, to parts of Molino delle Armi or to Porta Genova. There are some bars where the locals still speak in Milanese dialect.
A treat for our readers, your “hidden corner” in Milan?
Via Brisa and around that area – a little known part of Milan.
Thanks again, and good luck for all of your projects! Congratulations from the editors of Flawless Milano!