Among the greatest exponents of gastronomic culture in Italy, Philippe Levéillé is, today, among the most popular Chefs thanks to the numerous television successes. Let’s know him and his restaurant two Michelin stars, Miramonti L’Altro.
by Stefania Buscaglia
Some argue that the best recipes are born from the mixture.
So, imagine that the contamination in question can involve the two greatest European gastronomic cultures (and probably not only), synthesizing in it flavors, emotions and details that can harmoniously converge in a unique and surprising kitchen.
A skillful kitchen in expressing itself in generous gestures and dishes, sometimes opulent, with sensual and enchanting connotations. A seductive kitchen that bears the signature of Philippe Léveillé, a great exponent of French gastronomy in Italy that, in the province of Brescia, in Concesio, found his stronghold and the place where to express the essence of his soul and an incomparable cooking philosophy.
A philosophy that is born and grows thanks to a rich and multifaceted life experience, emotionally narrated in «La mia vita al burro», the autobiography where the Breton chef tells his stories through private and professional existence, retracing the steps from origins, up to the current successes of the Miramonti l’Altro restaurant in Concesio. Levéillé states: “who thinks that a dish takes life only in the kitchen, will remain amazed!”
Third of three childrens, Philippe Levéillé was born in Nantes – in the northwest of France – in 1963. He was son of a grower, thanks to his father and his profession, Philippe has the first conscious relationship with food. But there are not the oysters that influence the approach to life and cuisine of Levéillé because – as he himself says: «in Brittany, on every kitchen table there is butter, at all times and in all seasons: put it in the fridge it would be a sacrilege! Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it on the table. If it’s hot in summer, it goes into the cellar, but in the fridge jamais!». The butter, for the Breton chef, represents an element of absolute symbolic value, even before a food. A Proustian principle that, together with the maternal figure, positively conditions the entire existence of the Chef (thanks to the passion for travel and the curiosity that lead him around the world), they complete the cultural baggage and refine the charming personality. A personality that emerged from the beginning, when he was young, he managed to access the hotel school of Samoure three years in advance, thanks to a talent above average. Talent that allows Levéillé to take his first steps at the Lucas Carton in Paris (the first restaurant in the world to have obtained the three Michelin stars in 1933), where it will spend “twelve months, fifty-two weeks, three hundred and sixty-five days in silence and in solitude” shelling oysters in the cellar, then he went back “to the piano”, or in the kitchens of the Temple of world food. A beginning that tempered the character and allows him to grasp the next challenges that catapult him in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world from New York to Martinique, up to Monte Carlo. Then, a brief break during the national humanitarian service provided in Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen for the red cross in the two-year period 1981-82 (that, anyway, helps to shape the Chef we know today) and finally Italy, or rather, the province of Brescia that – at the end of the eighties – welcomes Philippe Levéillé just twenty-four.
In 1992 the meeting that will change his life: the one with the Piscini family that initially involves him in the Miramonti kitchens and later in his family, thanks to his love affair with Daniela, and together with his brother, Mauro Piscini, manages with affability and warmth the Miramonti l’Altro of Concesio, the flagship of Brescia’s restaurants: two Michelin Stars, Three Forks Gambero Rosso and Cappello d’Oro for the Guides of L’Espresso, are details for a chef who has been able to harmoniously combine two gastronomic expressions between French references and local ingredients, giving shape to what Levéillé himself likes to define as «my Italian cuisine». A coherent cuisine in every nuance, which takes on its own physiognomy and taste in a succession of digressions between the classicism of the past and modernity, “bouncing” from one culture to another with such naturalness, to definitely anesthetize the real or ideal borders of France and Italy. A one-way philosophy that includes dishes that have become iconic, such as Risotto ai funghi e formaggi dolci di montagna, Cubismo di Lingua or Rognone alla Lione, they can not renounce to the use of classic elements such as oysters, pigeons or game. These can be tasted à la carte or through one of the three tasting itineraries offered: Elogio della Tradizione (90,00 euro), Sapori e Colori (120,00 euro) or Chez Philippe (150,00 euro). Don’t forget the cheese cart and the legendary ice cream. A «generous, greedy and buttery» kitchen that confirms how contamination and coherence are absolutely no forerunner concepts. On the contrary, if picked up intelligently, they can give form to an inimitable result. Inimitable like the kitchen of Chef Philippe Levéillé.
Photo credits: Nicoló Brunelli, Lucio Elio