BORN AND RAISED in Savona, in the region of Liguria, Luigi blends traditional Italian cuisine with modern techniques and styles.
“I come from a family where the table was always very important because my nonna was a very good cook. Mealtime was family time, spent with my parents and grandparents. Nonna would cook for everyone, and every day she made something different – so the house was like a restaurant in many ways,” Luigi explains, describing the food he ate growing up as “a complete kitchen”.
“I grew up by the sea, so the style of cuisine was one where the earth and sea were perfectly united,” he says.
When Luigi cooks, many of the ingredients and ﬂavours take him back to his childhood – where much of the produce used in the family kitchen was grown in the garden. “Nonna used to make everything by hand – and that’s what brought me to the kitchen.”
To this day, regional Ligurian inﬂuences are ever present in Luigi’s kitchen. “This is the food I grew up with and what inspired me in the beginning. I have taken inspiration from both professional chefs and people in my family. Cooking is something that begins with emotion – it could be something you have seen or an ingredient – then it is transformed by using different techniques. Every dish is created from something I feel, I don’t want to follow any particular path,” he adds.
When Luigi decided he wanted to make cooking a career, he enrolled in a cooking school, but admits he preferred to be more hands on. “I didn’t really like school but used to go because my friends were there. Instead, I decided to look for work in restaurants.” And this took him all around Italy and France.
His culinary journey started at a restaurant called Antica Osteria del Ponte, where he worked under renowned chef Ezio Santin, who taught him a great deal about ingredients and avant-garde cooking techniques.
After gaining some experience in restaurant kitchens around Italy, Luigi had the opportunity to work in some of Italy’s top restaurants, including with one of Italy’s most highly-regarded chefs, Carlo Cracco.
Inspired by Carlo, who encouraged him to expand his skills, Luigi spent some time working in Cannes, France, where he was introduced to a new style of cooking. “I discovered there was so much more to learn,” he says.
Several executive chef positions ensued, including a role at Ristorante Delle Antiche Contrade in Cuneo, Piedmont in 2007. During his time there, the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star.
As Luigi built on his profile as a chef, success continued and in 2009, he was named Young Chef of the Year by the I Ristoranti d’Italia de L’Espresso guide.
Then in July 2012, Luigi was appointed as executive chef of Il Ristorante Trussardi Alla Scala in Milan, which prides itself on its use of high quality ingredients and distinctive ﬂ avours. His personal vision and style are a perfect fi t for the Trussardi Group. “They believe in the same things as I do. Meeting the Trussardi Group was very important for me because they invest so much in young people. Our union was one that naturally progressed. It is a perfect marriage and I hope it lasts as long as possible,” he says.
At Trussardi, Luigi makes the most of seasonal produce, creating dishes that Persone Luigi TagLienTi are traditional but with a modern twist. He is given complete freedom in the kitchen. “When I met with the people of Trussardi, it was like meeting a beautiful woman, I was completely fascinated. They have put their trust into me and allow me to drive the restaurant as if it were my own,” says Luigi.
“People that visit the restaurant come here for the experience, so I try to give them something unique and special. The Trussardi Group is all about food, art and design – and every single dish has a story.”
Luigi sees Milan as the perfect place to develop new concepts. “These begin with a memory and are projected into the future. You don’t live in the past, you live for the future. I try to always look ahead instead of stopping and looking back, but at the same time you gain something from each experience.”
For Luigi, every success has been another piece of the puzzle. Receiving the Young Chef of the Year award, followed by being awarded his first Michelin star at the age of 29, are just some of his career highlights to date.
Despite his profound success, Luigi asserts that it is important not to be complacent. “I think people need to be conscious of the fact that everything could end at any moment. It’s important to be humble and take each day as a seed that keeps on growing,” he says. “I never know what is going to happen next – but I have the desire and hunger to keep on getting better.”
Although Luigi prefers not to limit himself to a single signature dish, if he has to choose just one, he says it would be Bianco Nero Cuttlefish. “It is a combination of ‘made in Italy’ – simple, elegant and conceptual. At the moment, the trend in Italy is traditional Italian. But that doesn’t mean just cooking traditional Italian food, it means using Italian techniques and trying to create new memories,” he says.
“Each plate is a project and minimalism is the most important thing. Every single item that makes it onto the plate has been studied so that everything fits together. Every ingredient has a role.”
BIANCO E NERO DI SEPPIA
Black and white cuttlefish
By Michelin-starred chef
For the white cuttlefish layer
300g cuttlefish pulp, cleaned and passed through a meat mincer twice
Roll the pulp out between two sheets of baking paper, using a rolling pin. Place inside a bag suitable for vacuum cooking and bake in a steam oven at 85°C for 6 minutes. Cool immediately. Cut into 4 circles with a diameter of 16cm.
For the black cuttlefish layer 100g cuttlefish pulp, cleaned and passed through a meat mincer twice 10g cuttlefish ink
Combine both ingredients. Roll the pulp out between two sheets of baking paper, using a rolling pin. Place inside a bag suitable for vacuum cooking and bake in a steam oven at 85°C for 6 minutes.
Cool immediately. Cut the cuttlefish into 4 circles with a diameter of 3cm.
For the sea urchin panna cotta
100g fresh cream & 100g fresh whipping cream, lightly whipped
30g sea urchin pulp
1g gelatin sheets
Heat 40g of cream to 36°C, then add the gelatin and cool the mixture to a temperature of 28°C. Add the remaining cream and sea urchin pulp. Fold in the remaining cream and place the mixture into a piping bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours to a temperature of 6°C.
For the citrus juice reduction
Juice of 1 blood orange
Juice of 1 pink grapefruit
Juice of 1 yellow grapefruit
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
Add the juices to a medium saucepan and cook over a low flame. Reduce until it is a thick jelly-like consistency.
Brush the citrus juice reduction onto each plate. Add the sea urchin panna cotta on top, followed by the white disc and then the smaller black disc. If desired, the dish can be decorated with a strand of fried spaghetti and a piece of hot chilli.