Mariangela Susigan and her inspiration: the Canavese region, wild herbs and joyful cooking

photo by Petunia Ollister

 

 

According to Mariangela Susigan, Michelin star chef of the Gardenia di Caluso restaurant in the province of Turin, knowing and making the most of your roots is a form of communication. As a matter of fact, her dishes (you can find the full menu and prices on the website), do not only showcase the best of what Piedmont has to offer – from grey rabbits to Tonco hens, from snails to la finanziera and fried fish – they also include the traditional scents and flavours of the Canavese region – prepared with a decisively feminine touch. From the selection of toma cheese and goat’s cheese to the red Pignoletto corn and the use – especially in spring – of local flowers and wild herbs: wood sorrel, borrage, buckrams, hops, watercress, ajucche, bistorta which Mariangela selects and handpicks when she “disappears” from the kitchen.

We met her on the occasion of #socialchefpiemonte and discovered the secrets behind her cooking as she tells us what inspires her the most.

Where and when did you become a chef and how would you define the way you cook? I have a degree in accountancy but I’ve been working in the food & catering industry for over 37 years; I taught myself how to teach but cooking runs in the family – my mother was a chef, first in castles in France, where I lived for 12 years, then in noble Piedmontese residences. I am curious and never get tired of experimenting and switching up my dishes. I’d say my style is what one could call “joyful cooking”.

What flavours and scents characterise your dishes? One of the things that makes my dishes original is definitely my use of wild herbs. I’ve studied each of their properties and they are in my dishes from April to June; one of my menus is entirely dedicated to herbs and some of them appear in my dishes all year round. Other things which always appear in my cooking are the Slowfood concept, traditional Turin products and dishes which I am particularly fond of, such as the finanziera reale and Piedmontese fried fish.

Who works alongside you in the kitchen? 4 to 6 young cooks – all aged around 25. I try to convey a traditional yet innovative type of cuisine, especially when it comes to the cooking techniques. I am very strict when it comes to working in an organised fashion and expect this from them, so that the restaurant can work perfectly even when I’m away teaching at Gualtiero Marchesi’s Italian school of haute cuisine.

Why did you accept to take part in #socialchefpiemonte? I am active online through the restaurant’s website and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter with my personal accounts. I think that being present online is necessary to communicate with certain targets and age groups and it is a good means to face these times of crisis.

Your latest project? My picnic and star-like sandwich so one can enjoy a 5 star lunch while immersed in the nature of the Canavese.

Mariangela’s world for #socialchefpiemonte:

– Lago di Candia and B&B La Finestra sul Lago

– The Honey of  Mario Bianco, Caluso

– Molino Roccati/Roccati Mill, Candia Canavese

Roberto Crosio Wine Cellar

– Typical “Salumi” by Bruno e Lorenzo Actis Dato

– Azienda agricola Tordora Tocco, Vico Canavese (production of the typical Valchiusella cheese “Toma d’Trausela”)

Le Magistre d’erbe (herbal experts)

Matteo Villa, cheese affineur in Gauna

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