Interview with Claudio Gargioli aka the “Blecchescieff ” at Armando Al Pantheon

This is your second book. Writing is not new to you, you’ve always written, both for stage and prose: is there a connection between wri- ting and cooking? 

Every chef is an artist. e Their trademark ingredient is imagination, the same quality you need to write. So yes, undoubtedly the two things are very closely related. When you think about it, every dish is a symbol of history and tradition and can be transformed into a story or poem. In this sense, literature and food go arm in arm. 

How does this book differ from your last one? They both contain short and amusing stories and recipes, what makes this book different? 

The first book was born of a passion, it’s full of feelings, moments and expectations. e second one looks back into the past but in a completely different way and with a more judicious style of writing, more structured you could say. For example, in addition to the narrative and the new recipes, this one has two stories that deal more with the issue of gastro- nomy. I’d say I’d go into more detail about the concepts of food and cooking. Cooking is also history here. In writing about some of the dishes, I refer to Mediaeval greats like Maestro Martino, nicknamed the Leonardo da Vinci of cooking, or Renaissance culinary master Bartolomeo Sappi, personal chef to Pius V and author of one of the greatest treatises on food of all time, not to mention Apicius. I talk about chefs and other key figures of the literary world. 

Things always come in threes. Are you working on book number three? 

As a matter of fact, book three already exists. I wrote a novel about the vicissitudes of a group of sixteen-year olds, set in the 1960s, when e Beatles were famous and the only way of meeting girls was to hang out at the Catholic youth organization meetings. e story follows them for a year, a year full of great change. 

So, have you finished with the recipes and anecdotes? 

If I ever decide to publish a third book about food, I would probably choose a different structure, maybe a dramatization… Many chefs tell their stories through ghost writers but yours is all 

your own work or, it must be said, “ our from your own sack”. 

I have a literary background, reading and writing are two of my most favourite things. My aim was to build this book around anecdotes, a rhetorical device that I see as more akin to sophisticated gossip allowing you to go back in time. People who work in kitchens don’t often have the time to sit down and write which is probably why they need someone to do it for them. Clearly, if I had more time my writing would be much better, but I’m only free at night, when the silence helps me to think and to get things down on paper… so, thank goodness for editors! 

One last question. I’d like to ask you who you would like to cook for but haven’t had the honour of doing it for yet? 

There is someone I’d absolutely love to meet in my restaurant: Woody Allen, I’m a big fan of his. He’s a man of such enormous irony and intellectual stature. My dream is to meet him. ere is one thing I regret: I would have loved to delight Alberto Sordi with my dishes but he won’t be coming through our door any longer, unfortunately. 

Maybe there’s an American novelist or screenwriter reading this somewhere who could make that come true…