As one of the elder chefs on Netflix’s new culinary competition show The Final Table, Carlo Cracco draws upon his deep knowledge of Italian food to instruct the contestants and judge their versions of his homeland’s cuisine. Here’s everything you need to know about the Italian chef at The Final Table:
Who is Carlo Cracco?
Cracco is the chef/proprietor an acclaimed, eponymous fine dining restaurant in Milan that just relocated to the oldest shopping center in the world, the Galleria Vittorio. Ristorante Cracco features an eye-dropping multi-level space, with a bakery, barroom, and opulent dining room where the chef serves progressive Italian cuisine in a tasting menu format. Cracco is also one of the hosts of MasterChef Italia, which has been on the air since 2011, and the Italian version of Hell’s Kitchen, which ran from 2014 to 2016. Within his home country, Carlo often refereed to as “Italy’s most famous chef.”
What was his journey through the culinary world like?
Originally from Vicenza, Italy, Cracco entered the restaurant world in the mid ’80s after attending a hotel management school near his hometown. He joined the kitchen crew at Milan’s Gualtiero Marchesi, a nouvelle cuisine pioneer that was the first Italian restaurant to receive a coveted three-star rating from the Michelin Guide. In the late ’80s, Cracco also worked in fine dining restaurants in Paris operated by French legends Alain Ducasse and Alain Senderens.
After returning to Italy in 1991, the chef cooked at Florence’s L’Enoteca Pinchiorri, which received a three-star rating from Michelin during his tenure. With his old boss Gualtiero Marchesi, Cracco then opened a restaurant in Erbusco called L’Albereta, and in 1996, he struck out on his own with the opening of Le Clivie in Piobesi D’Alba, which received one Michelin star.
Four years later, Cracco partnered with the owners of Peck Delicatessen in Milan on the opening of a fine dining restaurant called Cracco-Peck, which received two Michelin stars. The chef eventually took over complete ownership of this establishment and renamed it, simply, Cracco. The restaurant held two Michelin stars for a decade, but was downgraded last year to just one star. In spring 2018, Cracco moved his flagship to the ambitiously-designed new location in the Galleria Vittorio.
What is Carlo Cracco’s food like?
The chef often takes traditional Milanese dishes and adds a modern spin to them — whether that’s by lightening them up a bit, adding ingredients that are not commonly included in old-school recipes, or plating them in the nouvelle cuisine style. One of his most famous dishes is a riff on veal Milanese that features a slice of raw veal atop a square of fried breadcrumbs, with a lemon on the side.
“The Milanese cutlet is one of the most popular dishes in Milan, and the whole of Lombardy, even though it’s often poorly executed: the bread crumbs fall of the meat, which is often cooked many hours before and then reheated when ordered,” Cracco told Fine Dining Lovers. “So we thought, ironically, that we would make it ‘sbagliata,’ or wrong, on purpose. This time we serve the breading apart from the meat, which this time is raw – made from young, Piedmont veal — and a bit of lemon peel.”
Although Cracco likes to play around with the form, he also has a reverence for the classics — he even offers a menu of traditional fare alongside a set of more forward-thinking dishes at his flagship restaurant.