Gualtiero Marchesi, Italian restaurateur – obituary

Gualtiero Marchesi Credit: FOTOGRAMMA

Gualtiero Marchesi, who has died aged 87, was probably the most influential and revered chef in Italy; considered responsible for making its native cooking credible as haute cuisine, his was the first restaurant in Italy to be awarded three Michelin stars – though he later handed them back in a high-profile spat with the gastronomic organisation.

In 1977, Italian fine dining was moribund, rooted still in a domestic tradition which valued quantity over a quality in any case unpredictable. Marchesi’s opening that year in Milan of his first restaurant was to prove perhaps the greatest catalyst to change in the national palate since Pellegrino Artusi gathered recipes from the different regions into the first truly Italian cookbook 85 years earlier.

Marchesi was a cerebral rather than an instinctive chef (a word he disdained, preferring cook). His main inspiration was nouvelle cuisine. In France...

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