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Valentino Cassanelli and the future of Italian cuisine


Evolution of style at Lux Lucis

by Marco Gemelli

A continuous evolution,sometimes instinctive, at other times coming from experience but always with the territory as common denominator: Valentino Cassanelli’s cuisine– class of ’84, Carlo Cracco’s pupil and now newly-starred chef of the restaurant Lux Lucis at Forte deiMarmi in Versilia – recalls the notions of travelling, movement, progress of the ideal common denominator which links each dish to the previous one in the menu. In these last five years spent at the lead of the restaurant, the chef has drawn an ideal line with dishes which are becoming all the more complex and contemporary. “In my menuI like to give the idea of a journey so that the customer, who is the subject around whose pleasure the choice of a menu must revolve, starts from the territory where he/she is and moves in the world.” This way even a classic ingredient like a simple carrot can be re-interpreted by leaving it to ferment for two months so that it absorbs all the notes of balsamic vinegar of Modena. With the coming of autumn, this curly-haired chef with inquisitive eyes presents one of his creations which he has left on the menu at Lux Lucis longest, a tuna steak browned with citronella, green grapes and quinoa.A dish where the autumn feel is given by the use of grapes – both when they are still green, offered as a miso soup, and when ripe, marinated and served peeled – as well as vine leaves, in which the slightly sautéed quinoa has been rolled. The fresh tuna steak is browned placing the fattier part on citronella leaves giving the dish a fragrance without resorting to any kinds of smoking processes. Citronella, which is important to give the dish an acidy and fresh hint, is found in the mousse on the steak. “The grapes and citronella I use,” explains Valentino Cassanelli, “are those which grow wild a few steps from the sea in front of the bathing establishment of Hotel Principe Forte deiMarmi”. The outcome is an unusual dish and thus perfectly in line with Valentino’s cuisine philosophy: strong tastes with a play on the contrast between the oily tuna steak and the acidity of the citronella raising it to important heights. With Valentino Cassanelli another star is born in Versilia. And it is by no coincidence that just a few metres away there is his great friend and colleague, a certain Cristoforo Trapani with whom to build the future of Italian cuisine.