THE CUSINE OF DANIEL CANZIAN EXPRESSED BETWEEN SYNTHESIS AND SIMPLICITY, WHERE ART AND SEASONALITY ARE COMBINED WITH ELEGANCE.
The words still resonate in my head with perfect linearity: they are clean, clear, and concise. The interview with Daniel Canzian was an echo of art and culture, a cultural elevation of the cusine, but in its synthesis and simplicity. Born in 1980, he has a classical restaurant education – that’s how he defines it. The restaurant that carries his name, comes to life in October 2013 in Milan and boasts a staff of 11 people.
Daniel is a member of JRE Italia Association since 2016 together and since 2019 also member of the JRE European Board
However, let’s take a step back. Daniel attends a hotel management school, but first of all, he comes from a family of restaurateurs, and this is what, according to him, makes the difference. He was born in a restaurant in all its aspects. The most crucial spur of his career is: “To have worked with one of the people whom has represented the real Italian cuisine, made of gestures, art, and culture: his name was Gualtiero Marchesi.” From the supposed 6 months of internship, he worked with Marchesi for 9 years: something must have done to make him fall in love so much.
By Lodovica Bo
When and where did your love for cooking was born? Was there lighting or a moment in your childhood when you realized you wanted to become a cook?
I’ll tell you the truth: No. It was all automatic and obvious. I’ve always thought and wanted to be a cook. I never thought for a moment about doing anything else. It was automatic. When I was a child I liked to stand behind the counter and wash the glasses: my dad forced me to go into the dining room and talk to people, but I was shy, and obviously, I didn’t accept this.
Daniel Canzian, a pupil of the great Gualtiero Marchesi: can you tell us about your before and after Marchesi?
It’s a question that no one has asked before and to which I’ve never even thought about – he says laughing. I believe the first is “the light,” as enlightenment and the second is “the reason” in the terms in which it is the reason that takes over everything. Let me explain: before I was illuminated by his kitchen, by his way of being, and interpreting various things, and so I absorbed. Now I act in a more reasoned way. There’s much intelligence behind what I do: I use my mind more openly.
What were the fundamental tools that Marchesi left you?
They are tools for reading, codifying, and interpreting in a correct way what could be a new version of the cusine.
What is the most important experience for your career?
It was undoubtedly the French experience, at Maison Troigros, from Chef Michel Troigros with his son Cesar. It happened thanks to Mr.Marchesi: he took me personally by car. In short, the dream of a child: Mr.Marchesi, who comes to pick me up and accompanies me where he has learned. I think there’s no need to add anything else.
How did you get to open your restaurant, and why?
Because I needed a new stimulus and growth and I think it’s an automatic life path. I didn’t have to do it because the doctor prescribed it to me,” he laughs, “I didn’t imagine it was so tricky, but it’s an essential baptism of the cook, which makes sense to give you a general understanding of how to manage a structure.
How would you define your style? What characterizes your kitchen?
I would call it warm, well thought out and with care.
Can we say, then, that it is an elegant style?
With a bit of modesty, it’s like I consider it.
Would you say that your Venetian origins influenced your cuisine?
Maybe more now than before. The more time passes, the more I begin to have a greater understanding of how important history is, the path that a person makes, and the origins that a person brings with him. We live in a historical moment where we are paradoxically open to any culture, so much so that we no longer recognize our own. Today in Milan you can comfortably live the experience in a Korean, Vietnamese, Fusion, Japanese, Chinese restaurant but if I want to eat Italian regional food, I don’t know where to go. I believe that the new frontier is the regionalization of the Italian cuisine.
The most important recognition?
Having cooked for the premiere of “La Scala”
The menu you brought?
A typical Italian menu. It was the reason why we were elected. The Opera was Giuseppe Verdi’s Attila and we, as in the deeds, proposed a mirror-like distinction in the menu: for the aperitif, in the first part of Aquileia, offering a typical “Fiulana” cuisine, sweet and sour, because the Ottoman cuisine is similar to it; we continued with a part linked to the origins of Giuseppe Verdi and his love for Milan, through a sweeter cuisine, with “risotto alla Milanese” and “agnolini” in broth. Then we ended up in Rome, in the final part of the Attila, where we tried to emphasize Roman cuisine with a more masculine, savory, open, and raw cuisine in some ways.
What does it mean for you to be a cook today? What is the role that chefs play, and what should be in your idea?
The cook today has a crucial role to play, but not so much related to the “Wow” effect that must be there every time you sit at the table. I can answer you with a beautiful sentence that says: “the truth of the form is the only way to defeat the deception of appearance.” I think that nowadays we need less appearance and more form. Probably the cook can be useful in this.
What does it mean to open a restaurant in a city like Milan, full of competition, and what can be the formula to maintain it?
It is undoubtedly stimulating. Fundamental to maintaining it is never giving up and being very receptive and open. Finally, positivity can’t never miss: it is difficult but undoubtedly vital from my point of view.
How do you choose the products and farmers to work with? How do you deal with products that today focus on environmental sustainability, and how can the cusine help in this way?
I started with 3/4 suppliers: today we have almost forty suppliers. We work a lot with the guys at Micibo, a rib structure of Terra Madre and Slow Food, which puts us in a position to embrace many producers from all over Italy even if, the note I want to focus on, is linked to local. We try to work a lot on the territory to avoid excessive transport. The founding belief of my cuisine is that seasonality is the basis of sustainability. I am aware that today is a given because the word sustainability is now in everyone’s mouth, but our restaurant brings these values from the day we opened it. Today we collaborate a lot with small producers in the choice of raw materials: I take my young people with me to live the city and the market, with pride and pleasure, because they have to live the seasons and the products directly since digitization has made us lose contact with the raw material.
Working with small producers also means adapting to the rhythms of mother nature, because I can also estimate orders, even if then you have to adapt to what the producers can get you. It was crucial for me because it changed the concept of the menu: before the menu was used to explain into detail, today it is stripped of any description because it depends on what product the producer has managed to get me in the day. So it’s the menu that becomes a function of the producer, not the other way around.
What is your relationship with waste in the kitchen?
We care a lot about waste since it is more than a great resource. However, I would like to shift the focus: the big problem today is related to products that require hours of travel because they come from different parts of the world. It makes me smile when I see chefs who pay attention to waste, but who order products from different parts of the world: for example when I see berries from Mexico, and they tell me it is a fresh product.
So it’s useless to pay attention to waste if I create costs and environmental damage on the other hand.
What is your vision of the gastronomy’s world today? In which direction do you think it is going?
It is going in a stronger direction of demarcation because we live a too complicated life, so the more we manage to simplify, the better it is. The same is happening in the kitchen: let’s not forget that it is nutrition.
Are you referring to the fact that today the kitchen is overstructured and should, therefore, be simplified?
It is evident that today a customer does not go to the restaurant because he is hungry or to the bar because he is thirsty, but he goes because he wants to live experience or spend a moment of relaxing. However, before even sitting people must necessarily photograph, post, and criticize, regardless of the expertise or not that person has.
Any advice for those who want to start their activity?
Training, training and training. Then come the contacts and the number of followers, otherwise sooner or later, if one does not have a solid foundation, with the risk that everything collapses.
Daniel, we thank you for the interview and wish you continued passion and success in your work.
Are you in Milano (Italy) soon; are you interested in Daniels Italian Contemporary Cuisine? Than be my quests at Daniel Restaurant and book a table under: email@example.com
Is the kitchen also the most important ingredient of your life? As member of JRE Italia Association and a member of the JRE European Board, I am always looking for ambitious and passionate employees for my team. Are you interested; just get in contact with me: firstname.lastname@example.org