It's hard to imagine a chef willingly giving up control over their kitchen. But when five special chefs come together for a good cause, then its easy to disprove the perennial myth of the chef as egotistical star.
They came to Pollenzo, from Morocco, the Netherlands and Italy. One was from Piedmont, while the others came from the Moroccan desert, the canals of Amsterdam and sun-drenched Sicily. And on Saturday September 21 these five chefs all worked together as equals in Pollenzo to prepare a very special dinner. While the streets of Bra were filled with the stalls and activities of Cheese, Slow Food's biennial international celebration of all things dairy, the Albergo dell'Agenzia hosted the Alliance Dinner. During this splendid collaboration between chefs, the atmosphere in the kitchen was one of curiosity and exchange.
Habib Balatif, Joris Bijdendijk, Geert Burema, Andrea Alì and Pierpaolo Livorno are all chefs from the Alliance, the Slow Food Foundation project that brings together chefs and small-scale food producers. Started in Italy, it is now active also in the Netherlands and Morocco.
From the aperitif to the coffee, the common thread was the use of Italian and international Presidia, promoting an appreciation of unusual local products at risk of extinction.
Habib Balatif is the chef at Café du Sud in Tagounite, a small village on the edge of the part of the Sahara Desert known as Erg Chigaga. For the occasion, he prepared a Moroccan pastilla, stuffed with chicken cooked with Taliouine saffron (Slow Food Presidium), Noto almonds (Slow Food Presidium), Certaldo onions and cinnamon. The dish was finished with a citrus honey made by Sicilian black bees (Slow Food Presidium) and Noto almonds and served with mint tea.
Chef Andrea Alì, from the osteria Da Andrea in Palazzolo Acreide, in the Sicilian province of Syracuse, presented a crema catalana made with carob flour, Sicilian black bee honey, Noto almonds and cane sugar.
Dutch chefs Joris Bijdendijk and Geert Burema, from the restaurants Bridges and Merkelbach, both in Amsterdam, presented a starter based on dried mullet caught by traditional Wadden Sea fishers (Slow Food Presidium) served with a parsley sauce and red beets. Their first course was a composition of cauliflower fried in clarified butter on a pumpkin and parsnip puree, paired with Naegelholt, a kind of air-dried beef (Ark of Taste) and aged artisanal Gouda (Slow Food Presidium).
The chef playing at home, Pierpaolo Livorno from the Agenzia restaurant, prepared a starter with Carmagnola peppers (Slow Food Presidium) filled with two other Presidia, Tuscan Sea palamita and Salina capers.
The dinner concluded with a cup of Harenna coffee, a Presidium from Ethiopia, a single-origin arabica that grows Harenna Forest.
Learn more about the Alliance project and discover the member restaurants!