Peter Brunel Between Memory And The Future: A Portrait Of A Chef Trentino To Florence

February 19, 2020 by No Comments

Peter Brunel, at half past eleven in the evening, after you have turned off the stove for his gourmet restaurant Borgo San Jacopo in Florence (one Michelin star and two gault Expressed), and wore a down jacket without sleeves and tackle the moisture that covers the terrace on the Arno, at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, sits down, shrugs her shoulders and looks us in the eyes: she wants to know how it went.

A nice dinner, the chef. We were impressed by the “Variations on a theme potato”: bold solutions but fascinating. As the potato ratta (grown in the mountainous areas of the north of Italy), casting from clay and embellished with a double mayonnaise lovage (herb similar to celery) and beetroot, the spaghetti of potato carbonara, with guanciale bacon crispy, cheese and a pouring of sauce eggnog; the two spume of potatoes, the first with a dust of paprika, the other with cabbage, romano, eggs and black truffle; pralines of potatoes to the spiced chocolate, served on a plate reminiscent of the game of checkers, to eat right by following the rules of the game.

Peter Brunel, forty-two years old, a wife, a kindergarten teacher, and two beautiful girls, was born in Val di Fassa, Trentino, does not suffer the temperature begins to drop. May, after the short ceremony of the pleasantries, get up and get to his family in the house next door to the Ponte delle Grazie, near here, wear the headphones (so it rests never the head on a pillow the first of the three) and run that disc of dire Straits, just downloaded and not yet listened to. And with a pencil draw a flower on a sheet of paper, colour the leaves one at a time and then turn it, the day after, in a brilliant gourmet dish, as it has done other times. No, not tonight.

Peter speaks with a tone of voice that always has the same tone, every time he smiles, has the look between the river and the Ponte Vecchio, together we look at the guests of the Hotel Lungarno that are in their rooms, just all redone, bright and modern.

Peter Brunel shaking in the hands a large folder of the skin, opens it up and pulls out a maxi tablet. There is everything in there: family, work, the future. Ago quickly scroll through the index on the screen and hundreds of images that blend like a kaleidoscope. Peter knows where to stop: here are the photos of the girls (in the kitchen, of course), the gourmet creations that have marked its history, machines and ultra-modern that every cook dreams of, with a packed agenda full of business names roads meetings. And the kitchens in the past have appreciated its small brilliant daily gestures: the Laurin Bolzano, Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, the Church of Trent, and Villa Negri in Riva del Garda where, at just 28 years of age (“maybe too soon”, he confesses) won his first Michelin star. But not lacking in this personal catalogue of the tastes and emotions of the dishes of his many colleagues in the chef.

Says Peter: “I often Go to lunch or out to dinner with my wife, of course, sometimes just with my co-workers. I’m going to judge and, if that is the case, learn. Do you think that we have gone in 18 (brigade, maitre, waiters and waitresses) by Massimo Bottura, in Modena; there has to be accommodated in a room behind the restaurant, fortunately, we are friends and he made me a price please.” And he adds: “A gourmet restaurant of 50 percent must offer dishes that present diners with an experience. Okay, but the other 50 percent must have substance, otherwise it is more the restaurant is the only experimental laboratory”.

Midnight is passed by a piece. A flock of seagulls flies low to hunt for food; two tourists overlook on the balcony, which almost rests on the banks of the Arno river; a few guys on the lungarno degli Acciaiuoli speak loudly so that their boos come from here.

Peter Brunel is not in a hurry – at least it seems to add more stars to his biographical notes. Think of his past, and recounts it.
“A few years ago, immediately after the birth of two girls, I realized that I had to stop. Our it is hard work, if you want to achieve the result you have to make sacrifices, from morning to night. It is a mestieraccio, that will not leave you space and time to another. I could continue, other tours, other restaurants, other dishes from launch. But no, I said to myself, this time I stop and the devil, stoves, and chemical formulas, vacuum, mixer, cookware and utensils: to follow the growth of the two girls is more important. Then came Florence, an opportunity that I could not let it go; the daughters were no longer small, and I said yes to the Ferragamo family, which I had proposed to lead the kitchens of his hotels. Yes, I’m back on my feet. And I have not regretted”.

Peter Brunel he also thinks about his future. “I don’t see myself in a kitchen for the rest of my life. I dream of a small farmhouse in the Val di Fassa to be transformed in farm holidays, with four, maximum six guest rooms. And no restaurant, only a large table where the guests take their seats as if they were in the dining room of their home, and have a chat, drink and eat. Of course, I’ll be in the kitchen, but it just takes a really few”.

Peter would like to continue but is preparing to live a day of rest: an essay of the girls, a meeting with a fellow chef, and at noon, departure for the Val di Fassa, to find land and family. And some new – and good – idea to put on the table.


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