Aimo and Nadia: a journey to discover Italian flavors.
TBD Eyewear met one of the two chefs, Fabio Pisani, and together they retraced the history of Aimo and Nadia to date.
It was 1962 when Aimo and Nadia decided to open what would be the place of the most avant-garde flavors in Milan. Then, the generational leap. In 2005, just two twenty-six years old arrived, and in just over two years they managed to reconquer that second michelin star lost. Born in 1978 both, Alessandro Negrini and Fabio Pisani bring traditions and experiences in a journey of authentic taste, made of many dreams and good will. Valtellinese (n.d.r North of Italy) one, the other from Puglia (n.d.r South of Italy), these two guys manage to create a team made up of people who work with them, on a project based on Italianness, on research and product enhancement through meticulous research of local suppliers. They, the people, are the soul of this place. With a bit of teamwork, and a lot of motivation, they managed to create the perfect recipe for this great culinary success.
Aimo & Nadia was born in 1962. Then you arrived. What has really changed since then and what has remained?
Surely the added value was that being younger, both me and Alessandro, we brought a different cultural baggage also given by the different experiences abroad made by both. In our kitchen there is a common thread always given by fresh, seasonal aromas and then, always that pinch of intelligent continuity .... it was not our intention to eliminate the fixed points of the traditional kitchen of Aimo and Nadia, rather we tried to readjust it in a fresh and contemporary logic. When we talk about contemporaneity we talk about techniques or products that work in a certain way give you a result, but without removing that value or personality that ingredient could have. For example, using earthenware pots to cook beans is tradition, or the roner for an egg is avant-garde. Here, this is contemporary for us, trying to make the old man live with the new. It's a kitchen that is now 56 years old and that growing up gives you that grit that does not need many explanations.
Are there any dishes left from that tradition of '62?
Absolutely, they are 4. Cipollotto, Etruscan soup, patè and oxtail. There are customers who are fond of even one dish and who are waiting for that time of year to give it to them. We care about emotions at the table, and we want to share them with our customers. For example, lately, we had a client from NYC who was excited because for the taste of one of our dishes, because he was able to relive those experienced as a child in his grandmother's kitchen. Also for us it has been a great emotion.
You are two chefs, and now you have worked together for many years. How do you get along?
We are two totally different people, and we are very happy for that, because it allows us to complete ourselves. I am more pragmatic and determined, while Alessandro is more immediate, impulsive. We have different stories and different experiences that allow us to create a winning team.
Is there a dish that combines your traditions so different?
In truth, it's a dish that links everyone. Risotto with violet shrimp from Sanremo, lemon from Sorrento Coast, capers and oregano from Pantelleria, Riso di Pavia, Burrata from Puglia and Extra Vergin Oil from Umbria. A real journey of flavors for each of us. Most important of all is that they are all products of our land.
Fashion is not only in the fashion system, but also in the kitchen. Macrobiotic, bio, vegan cuisine. Your kitchen, however, how is it compared to these new trends?
To tell the truth, ours is a kitchen open to all and dishes that can eat even those who have different habits because they are clever dishes. For example, the cicerchia, (ndr ancient Italian legume) can be safely eaten by a vegan person. It 's a typical dish of ours, which is reminiscent of Puglia, but it is a dish basically born here.
Surely the inspiration comes from your tradition, but are there any foreign contaminations in your dishes?
Of course yes. For example, my smoked duck with brown sugar, remembers my beautiful trip to Africa. When I returned, I decided to smoke a duck with sugar, various spices and cinnamon, which I had brought with me from those places. There is little to say. The scent that emanates when the sugar melts is something amazing. It is a dish of the world. Many Asians are delighted to try it. I love traveling, cooking is all over the world. Traveling always I bring something with me that then my guests can find in the dishes that I cook.
A kitchen abroad that you appreciate?
For sure, Japanese cuisine. In Italy I had never tasted it. I went there a few years ago and I fell in love with it. They are like us, they have a lot of respect for tradition and the product. For us, the extraction of taste is very important ... ours, here at Aimo and Nadia, is a light cuisine that is very good for the mind. I usually use a lot of Extra Vergin Oil. I also went to Amazonia, and I really liked their culinary tradition. They have a heritage for biodiversity, which for absurdity is very similar to ours, but still totally unexplored for us. Such as milk extracted from the bark of the tree.You could really create a lot of things, innovative dishes, but to start this process of innovation there is a need for a lot of research and knowledge.
Is there anything that Italian chefs as a category should learn from foreign chefs?
The Italian chef must appreciate and start first to know what he has at home, which is unique ... we have products that are truly extraordinary and unique, but still unexplored. Products that, for example, are known only in some regions. We must value and help small producers, they make a nation great. When you find niche products, this is a value, there is a story that is not lost and you can give continuity to it. So the product keeps growing and it's something you cannot forget.
You're home, you have very few ingredients, which dish do you prepare?
Spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil. The secret is to use three different types of tomatoes with the right level of sugar and acidity. To be precise: tomato, cherry and piccadilly, which has a high sugar content ... then it's up to you to find the right mix of the three.
I have a dream in the drawer. I like the term sharing your passion and your work. Today, thanks to social networks, you are seen all over the world. Here, behind the restaurant, we have a beautiful garden that we would like to use to research and develop this type of kitchen philosophy. It would be perfect for a foreign chef who lives abroad to try his hand at this type of cuisine, but unfortunately he can not do it in his own country. So you can go here and use our product. The aim will be to create a dish that, however, has our research philosophy, the enhancement of the ingredient and the same approach to our cuisine.
Do not you fear that others can steal your little culinary secrets?
No, I'm not afraid, because if you're scared, you're still small.
Credits: Fabio Pisani for Il luogo di Aimo and Nadia and Fabio Attanasio for TBD Eyewear / Ph: @nafisehka