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Riccardo Facchini — Moving forward with strong memories

article Chef Riccardo Facchini

Although Riccardo Facchini is now a well-known TV personality and a chef from Bologna, it is some of his childhood memories that fondly fill his mind.
In 2011, he took over the historic restaurant Il Pappagallo, where he went back to the roots of the Felsinean tradition. After moving to France for a while to learn the basics of local cuisine, he joined Antonella Clerici's chef team in the TV show "La Prova del Cuoco" in 2012.

In 2015, he opened L'Opificio di Cucina — a "cooking laboratory" where he has specialised in bakery products while teaching modern cooking techniques. And in 2016 he launched Opificio Facchini — a restaurant and cooking academy in Casted D'Aiano.
He wrote about his love for cooking and collected his recipes in the book Opificio Facchini, La Cucina Della Memoria (Workshop Facchini, the Kitchen of Memories), published by Edizioni del Loggione.

'My house revolves around the kitchen in the same way as my entire life and story revolve around cooking,' Facchini said, smiling. 'When I was a child, the kitchen was the place where I used to play, do my homework, and where my grandmother used to practise her magic of cooking.
'It was like a fairytale that used to bewitch and seduce me at the same time. Some memories are engraved forever in my mind: the scent that used to linger in the air inside the house, the sunlight filtered through the window glass of the kitchen... a warm light that still fills my heart with joy.
'The sad truth is that when you're a child, you don't fully appreciate such loving care. I am embarrassed to say that when I was in school, I would crave the slices of pizza my classmates used to buy in the bakery next to the school. Years later, my former classmates confessed that at the time, they would have loved to switch their pizza with my Crescentine with prosciutto.'

He paused, and smiled again. 'What about mirepoix? Who has never smelled the scent of mirepoix? You can't walk around Bologna without smelling the scent of mirepoix. You start to smell its scent mixed with the smell of coffee around 10, as a prelude to the Sunday lunch. Until a few years ago, as if the all the rzdore, (the housewives) had an appointment, and the streets of the city centre would fill with a rhythmic clatter coming from inside the houses. It was the sound of the pistadura, a big wood cutting board that everyone used to have at home at that time. The sound would come from the coltellina — a knife with a square end used to cut tagliatelle and lard — hitting the cutting board.

'Our Sunday lunch included tortellini in capon broth ("not too small" as my grandmother used to say), lasagna with nettle and boiled meat dressed with the famous green sauce. Lasagne were usually made one day in advance, then the pasta dough would rest it in the fridge before being cooked. As for tortellini, that's a completely different matter.
'In the morning, after breakfast, we would pull the cutting board off the kitchen table and then start kneading the dough. We would roll it out, cut it, and fill it within a few minutes.

'There's nothing more welcoming than a cutting board full of small, square-shaped pieces of dough that will soon become tortellini.'
Again he pauses, and then continues thoughtfully, 'the kind of conversations that take place around a table soon becomes a collection of everything that has happened during the week. You chat, you confront yourself with the others.'

Author: Katia Brentani, translation by Bologna Connect

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