Gualtiero Marchesi, a true artist in the kitchen

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His own signature dishes were, in his words, “truthful in form and therefore in substance”. And when we speak of something in terms of form and substance, we are talking about Art with a capital A

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There is no question that the arts – culinary and otherwise – played an integral role in the life of Gualtiero Marchesi, genius and rebel of the Italian culinary scene, recipient of three Michelin stars. It was in the name of art, beauty, color theory and above all originality, that Gualtiero Marchesi came to Grand Hotel Tremezzo. That was back in 2010 and yet still today, five years after the maestro was taken from us, our palace is the only place in the world where you can indulge in a full menu created by this great chef.


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What Marchesi loved about avant-garde artists was their audacity, their obsessive drive to break boundaries. His tasting menu served in our restaurant La Terrazza Gualtiero Marchesi, overlooking the splendor of Lake Como, was created in that same spirit, a museum-worthy collection. Among the luminaries honored on the plate are Piero Manzoni, with the Achrome of Sea Bass, Jackson Pollock, with the Dripping Fish, and Lucio Fontana, with yet another fish dish called The Red and the Black, a "Theatre-style" creation, now exhibited at the Rome National Gallery. Marchesi knew and loved the new generation as well, for example the young artist Salvatore Sava from Puglia, to whom he dedicated his 2010 Cold Sabayon of Marsala with Fried Rice Spaghetti.

In the documentary Gualtiero Marchesi. The Great Italian, which featured at the 2017 Cannes film festival, celebrated chef Massimo Bottura remarked that Marchesi’s most influential role was “bringing the best of the past into the future”. Isn’t that what all great artists do?

If someone asked us what it was – or rather, what it is – that makes Marchesi’s food so special, we would give the same response as one of his peers, Alain Ducasse: “Gualtiero Marchesi was an artist.” He was an artist in that he had a profound understanding of what it means to dedicate your life to art and was a prolific collector of artwork of all kinds. In other words, his relationship to art and artists was just as intimate, just as all-consuming and passionate, just as enthusiastic and intuitively modern as his relationship to cooking. This exceedingly original combination of creativity and culture enabled Gualtiero to craft an extraordinary menu paying tribute to the 20th century’s most radical painters. Today, each of these signature dishes are executed with the utmost fidelity by Osvaldo Presazzi, Executive Chef of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo and for eight years a student of the legendary Italian chef. Or should we say cook? Marchesi was no fan of the honorific “chef”.