Grana Padano and chef: it’s a bet!

Together with haute cuisine, a difficult challenge that is now reality: an interview with the GM of the Consortium

“Every edition of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is also a chance to allow the sponsors,  a total of 15, 4 of which are Italian, to show off: Acqua Panna S.Pellegrino, Ferrari, a new entry, Grana Padano and Lavazza”, writes Paolo Marchi on Identità Golose. The presence of the Italian cheese in events like this is nothing new:  for quite some time now, the Consortium has decided to work alongside haute cuisine.  

«The choice of Grana Padano to become a partner  and (first) official cheese of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, probably the most important event on the world restaurant scene, comes from a long time ago  – explains Stefano Berni, general manager of the Consortium since 1998 – We’re talking about almost 20 years of collaboration with the Bastianich family, at that time unknown in Italy, and with several starred chefs:  then we became the first brand to say “we are in” to Identità Golose,12 years ago. And all of this with the same unchanging spirit and commitment:  support the chefs engaged in transmitting the extraordinary nature of Italian cuisine all over the world thanks also to its amazing products».

Bottura’s award is the culmination of a long path …

«We are happy not only for the award given to Bottura but also for the extraordinary recognition given to Italian cuisine, thanks to the positions of Crippa, Alajmo and Scabin in the top 50, along with Romito and Bombana in the first 100. The international slant of World’s 50 Best and the award criteria perfectly reflect the values of our brand, which shares its ability to grasp and summarize the rends and values with fundamental importance for those who work in the cooking field every day in a serious way with commitment and dedication ».

How was the decision made to put Grana Padano alongside haute cuisine?  

«At the beginning, it might have seemed to be pretty big decision: we all know that in terms of appeal, and fame, in Italy the cheese that is most suited to fine dining might seem to be Parmigiano Reggiano.  But we had a different thought, that was also a bet:  highlight the excellence of Grana Padano along with its extraordinary range of uses, to prove the fact that this cheese had the right and dignity to be considered by great chefs».

How did Grana Padano become a cheese used by many important chefs, in addition to being used in the most important haute cuisine events worldwide, starting from Identità Golose and 50 Best? We talked about it with Stefano Berni, general manager of the Consortium.

What do you mean by its range of uses?

«I refer to what could have seemed to be a limit: Grana Padano us produced in very different conditions, the milk comes from both the mountains and the flatlands.  As a result, different territories and then variable seasoning give way to diversified characteristics.  The idea was:   let’s make this its strong point.  Every chef can choose the type of Grana Padano that best suits the recipe they have in mind».

Mission accomplished?

«I’d say yes, today everyone know that we can accompany with prestige the creations of the most important chefs. The objective has been reached, but we will continue to support Italian haute cuisine, especially abroad».

Why especially abroad?

«We are the first Dop cheese in Italy and in the world, our quality is recognized, but in our country people see us as a national-popular product.  Abroad – where price doubles or triples – we are instead perceived as an excellence, so the partnership with our chefs working abroad is natural».

How much do you sell abroad?

«We sell 38% of our production, with a constant increase. In Italy sales are stable. You should remember that we produce above 4 million and 800 thousand wheels having an average weight of 38 kilos each».

How have relations with the chefs been during the past years?

«Some immediately accepted the challenge we talked about before: these chefs were those who at the beginning were tied less to a certain image and then matured in time, so they were more willing to experiment.  We developed good relationship, they gave us some important suggestions…Other, on the other hand, accepted but with some difficulty».

What chef did you get along with the most?

«I’ll say one, knowing that it’s not right with regards to many others: Davide Oldani»

Carlo Passera

East Lombardy is the European region
of gastronomy 2017