November 2022 – Probably the most famous chef in Italy, based on his amazing cooking skills and his numerous television appearances is Antonino Cannavacciuolo. Yesterday he received his third Michelin star, putting his kitchen and his cooking in the ‘best of the best’ category, according to the Michelin restaurant inspectors. It also puts the chef in a unique and very small group of 3-Michelin star holders in Italy. A total of twelve chefs in all.
I first discovered Cannavacciuolo and his cooking skills, seven years ago, when my friend Francesca Blench introduced me to Lake Orta. Orta is one of the smaller Italian lakes, it is exquisitely beautiful, just an hour’s drive from Milan and it is a gastronomic paradise. At the time the chef had two Michelin stars and an amazing celebrity chef career on television.
As often happens when a great chef works in a particular area for many years (Antonino has been here more than twenty), there’s a trickle down effect and that’s certainly the case here. As well as the stately, regal even, dining rooms of Villa Crespi where Antonino is King of the kitchen, there are numerous bistros, small restaurants and lakeshore dining opportunities, often run by chefs that have trained under the great man himself.
Here’s a link to the article I wrote in 2016 about Orta and its gastronomic heritage. Lake Orta – a gastronomic paradise
Meanwhile look out for ‘Antonino’ he’s bound to appear on your TV screen sooner or later! Originally from just outside Naples, Antonino is a hero in his home town, where the local souvenir shops even stock models of him (see below), alongside those of Harry and Meghan and Donald Trump!
Antonino (sometimes called Tony by his friends) works from the beautiful 19th century ‘Moorish’ palace built on the shores of Lake Orta by businessman and entrepreneur Cristoforo Crespi back in the 1880s. You can see the fairy tale structure and the stunning lakeshore location in the photo below. Curiously Cristoforo was inspired to build his business empire by his father Toni, I wonder what he’d think of the current ‘Tony’ reaching incredible culinary heights in his lakeside villa 140 years later.
Villa Crespi – Lago d’ Orta, Fabulous gastronomic restaurant and hotel – HQ of Antonino Cannavacciuolo
NOTE – Cristoforo Crespi and the Crespi family are the subject of a new novel by Alessandra Selmi (see above). Crespi and his family were cotton mill owners and Crespi was responsible for building a ‘worker’s village’ for his employees, on the banks of the River Adda at about the same time that he built Villa Crespi. The factory village, known as Crespi d’Adda was the first of its type in Italy. I’d strongly recommend the novel, beautifully written and great character development.
- www.antoninocannavacciuolo.it – the great man’s official website.
- Michelin Guide Italia – 2023 for all the details of Michelin starred restaurants in Italy for the coming year
- Mauro Uliassi is another fantastic Michelin-starred chef working in the multi-starred seaside town of Senigallia, Italy – Gastronomy and Wine – here’s what I’ve got to say about him.
- I’m also a big fan of Moreno Cedroni (also based in Senigallia) who is a wonderful, wonderful chef and Michelin starred. I mention him in this article about Senigallia – Senigallia – 10 reasons to visit!
- I’d also recommend Alessandra Selmi’s novel ‘Al di Qua del Fiume’ – publisher: Casa Editrice Nord (2022).
- Editrice Nord (publisher)
- If you’d like to join me on an Italian Lakes Tour next June, for a small group of guests, 6-8 people, including the fabulous Lake Orta, then message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
9th November, 2022