Excellence in Wine and Cuisine.
During the recent “Unexpected Umbria – Discovery Tour” which we talked about extensively in this Article, we decided to dedicate a new article exclusively to a company that stands out for excellence in two of the key areas of iBESTmag and precisely in those of wine production and quality food. Tenuta Vitalonga of the Maravalle Family, near Ficulle, in fact combines a high quality wine production with an “Osteria” where the same wines accompany the creations of a very young and talented Chef, aimed at enhancing above all the products of Umbria’s territory and traditions.
THE ESTATE – From the point of view of wine production, Vitalonga is based on the ProJectus VitiCultura, which “kindly” revolutionizes the approach to cultivation and territory. An agriculture based on biological criteria and safeguarding bio-diversity, in harmony with the landscape and traditions. A hilly “boundary land”, bordered by rough and deep gullies, is thus cultivated and at the same time preserved, through a scientific approach that do not go to alter the terroir with the illusory purpose of a contemporary industrial exploitation. The cultivated varieties are Montepulciano and Sangiovese (present in the area for over 50 years) flanked by Merlot and Cabernet grapes.
From this philosophy a few, but noteworthy wines are born, able to satisfy the most demanding palates. Four red wines: The new one Montenibbio (Sangiovese and Merlot), Phiculle (Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese), Terra di Confine (Montepulciano and Merlot) and Elcione (Merlot, Cabernet, Sangiovese). These wines refine their properties in French oak barrels in the beautiful barrel cellar.
There are also a very good Elcione Rosè (Merlot and Cabernet) and a white Chardonnay produced in limited quantities in addition to the red Maravalle Franciosini 1897 selection with limited and numbered bottles. Each of these wines has its own distinct personality, thus being able to easily marry to the different tastes of the lovers and make a perfect pairing with the most disparate dishes. However, all of them make good the efforts made by the Maravalle family to obtain high quality products from a difficult land.
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THE OSTERIA – As we have already mentioned, however, despite being born primarily as a winery, Tenuta Vitalonga has inside a beautiful “Osteria”. The happy intuition of Pier Francesco Maravalle was that of giving trust to a very young Chef: Marco Basili.
A young man of whom, we will surely hear about in the future. In fact, even if only 22 years old, Marco already boasts many national and international experiences, often of the highest level. Some as an internship during the studies (we just mention The Four Seasons Hotel in Geneva with Michelin-starred restaurant and Borgo San Felice under the guidance of the 2-star Chef Francesco Bracali) and others later, culminated with the Parisian experiences at “Le George” Restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel and at the “Chic Cellar” , both in Paris.
A baggage of impressive experiences for a young boy who, combined with his imagination, his passion and the philosophy of Vitalonga, give life to a tourbillon of fantastic dishes, thematic menus inspired by music, candlelight dinners in the vineyard or sensorial experiences where you eat blindfolded and have to recognize the dishes only from the scent, as well as to learn to appreciate them by breaking down the flavors in your mouth without the help of sight. Both from the point of view of ingredients and creativity, Marco is helped by the presence in Vitalonga of the “Horti”, from which to take many of the products used (vegetables, fruits, aromatic herbs) that are cultivated with the same philosophy of the vines.
A set therefore, that of Tenuta Vitalonga, where the enhancement and respect of the territory, the production of excellent wines and the superfine cuisine are combined (among other things immersed in an enchanting landscape) to give the visitor unforgettable experiences.
THE INTERVIEW – Let’s say the truth: we were so impressed that we decided to dedicate an interview to Marco Basili, just like the ones we make with the “sacred monsters” of international cuisine and if you will go to Vitalonga, certainly won’t have difficulty understanding why.
Interview with Chef Marco Basili by Daniela Barone
I personally had the opportunity to know and appreciate the creative cuisine of the young Chef Marco Basili, at the Vitalonga Estate, a farm nestled among rows of endless vines, whose great wines accompanied the tastings of Marco’s surprising menu, who I thank and address this interview.
Q) Passion for food, for art and photography, what do these three elements have in common for you?
A) Do you know that imperceptible feeling you have when you fall in love? An imaginary wind that lifts you off the ground and even gives you a pinch of dizziness? The moment I first approached the kitchen, theater, photography, art in general, I had this feeling and perhaps, the thing that unites them the most is the same as nutrition, i.e. creativity.
Q) Your professional path has already seen you in many situations, from small provincial restaurants to international starred restaurants such as Le George of the Four Seasons in Paris. Does your creativity influence the place where you work?
A) Regarding the first experiences certainly, but going forward and changing places, start creating a professional personality that you take with, along with the knife case. So you reverse the roles and begin to influence the environment around you.
Q) What do you find is more stimulating in your profession?
A) I still do not know exactly: many things stimulate me in the kitchen. The fire, the knives, the ingredients, but I believe that between all the senses, what stands out most is the creative process during the preparation phase, having available a vegetable garden and a flower bed full of flowers and aromatic herbs, I love to indulge giving a different standard to each table (except during events).
Q) Was there a reference Chef, someone who was really important for your professional growth and who contributed to your training?
A) I was lucky to know many chefs in my young path, but I think a particular note of merit I owe to Chef Francesco Bracali and Chef Patissier Nazzareno Dodi: with the latter, during my experience at S. Felice I was willing to stay well beyond the end of the service, to learn techniques, secrets and details of the kitchen.
Q) How much time do you dedicate to the invention of your dish, from what do you start? Are there any rules to follow but still following inspiration?
A) Sometimes even days, but the best ideas come suddenly, and in less than half an hour literally explodes a new dish in my brain. Regarding the rules to be respected, I simply need to isolate myself from the world and listen to classical music and piano, I owe a lot to Ludovico Einaudi, Ezio Bosso, Vivaldi and Yann Tiersen, interpret the music in such a way that the symphony penetrates the soul … and suddenly PUFF !! A new dish is born!
Q) I have personally found excellent, original and special ingredients and flavors in your surprising menus. In addition you are very affable, smiling, and find time to even turn around your guests’ tables, providing details and explanations about your dishes. Do you like contact with the public? Do you believe it is important?
A) I love being able to compare myself with the public, I like to create energy between the tables and turn a simple meal into a unique experience … .a sort of happening where we see the barrier between chef and diner torn down and then merge with the taste of dishes that come out of the kitchen …. my luck is to have a really formidable staff composed by Chef Elia Marinali and Chef Ana Azoitei, with whom you can really create the impossible. In this way during the service, a moment before the end of the dishes, I can go out and tell the audience the story of the dish.
Q) The work of the Chef is very challenging, given your young age, 22 years, you can have free time for your interests, friends and sport? Do you mature before entering the world of work compared to those who are still studying at the same age?
A) In the 24 hours of the day it is difficult to find time for extras; in my agenda are already included gym and entertainment in order to give me a minimum free time for social life. What’s more, working with one of my best friends, who I most regard as a brother (Elia Marinali) is a bit easier to have to work while others have fun, but I do not mind even spending 10/12 hours a day in the kitchen for I can build my career. Responding to the question of maturation, certainly before you start working, first you learn things: school is just an input to understand if it is really the job you want or not, and increases the passion you have for the stove, especially if you had a cooking teacher like mine (Stefania Chiocci) who every day gave us injections of passions and smiles while she told us about the recipes, almost in Artusi style. However, the chef’s life has been hard since the first years, but if you have a goal and willing to sacrifice what you are for what you want to become, do not mind giving up on holidays and free time, if you have a mission in life.
Q) How exciting is it to cook in a starred restaurant such as Le George in Paris? Do you have an episode to tell us about?
A) When you get into a restaurant as Le George, find out what it feels like to be a star, even if I was just a commis, I feel like I’m part of a team of special forces ready for anything, a bit like in the movie “A-Team” where everyone, big or small, had an essential role and contributed to the success of a mission.
I was most impressed when a well-known Japanese Chef came to the kitchen to teach us the Ikagime technique to prepare the fish used for sushi: it practically affects the fish under the front fin (without detaching the head) it is done with the back part, then you insert a small steel wire into the marrow and it runs through the spine, in this way the meat is softer and more digestible, at the same time also the freshness after a day of fridge remains intact. I watched fascinated the hands of the Chef who with a Japanese mastery, handled the fish as if it were part of him.
Q) Can you tell us the name of a great non-Italian chef, with whom you would like to work?
A) Francis Mallmann is my idol , the emblem of culinary freedom.
Q) With a brief explanation, can you think about three dishes you would prepare, and that would match the personalities of each of these three famous characters: Robert De Niro, Sebastião Salgado and her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth.
A) I do not know if I can satisfy such refined customers, but I’ll try. For Robert De Niro, I would prepare a dish based on rice, I respect him very much as a person and I admire his art in films, but I am one who tests diners and I would be curious to see him taste one of my latest creations: a Tomato Risotto with parsley oil and sautéed Moscardini. For the great Sebastião Salgado I would propose an essential dish, but as deep as his pictures: I designed a special flat dish together with our cocci master Fabio Fattorini, with the cast of the palm of one hand; in the center then I would put a Trout Flan with truffle flakes, a slice of lemon and a little cream of Parmesan, to let it run between the fingers of the dish. In response to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, I would be curious to see her eat with fun and curiosity , maybe even using the hands to orient herself, I would propose a “Blind Tasting” based on Capocollo Bocconcini sautéed in red wine, with caramelized apple, pine nuts and drops of balsamic vinegar.
Q) Do you have a professional project, a trip, what are you working on? Where do you see yourself in the near future?
A) Yes, I have a project in progress in Brazil: I’m collaborating with my dear friend Matheus Assis, who is opening a Wine Bar in Belo Horizonte. The name and the concept will be those of our current weekly appointment at Tenuta Vitalonga: “AperitiVino”, plus the proposed menu, based on finger food paired with Italian wines and Vitalonga’s ones, will be signed in my name. Just these days I’m processing continuous recipes to ensure the wine and food maximum efficiency, taking into account the climate and the Brazilian territory.
Q) You are a very good emerging Chef, and given your young age and your artistic inclination I want to ask you : What do you want to do when you grow up …?! 🙂
A) When I grow up I want to be an astronaut !!! (Just a joke) … I want to be Marco Basili: the Chef, photographer and actor who matches not only with wine and food, but with everything that defines itself as art. I am aware that it is a great ambition, but with a good dose of determination, a spoon of constancy and a bit of luck, I am sure that this recipe will be a success.
Thanks for this interview Marco!
Texts and Images © iBESTmag , Interview © iBESTmag/Daniela Barone – Reproduction Forbidden