A history of research, intuition, and stubbornness; the almost unbelievable story of how the kitchen of one of the most famous restaurants in Milan was born.
It’s 2015. Milan is still struggling with the last few shots of a decade-long crisis, but it is still the most bustling Italian city: a place where opportunities never lack, for those who have a heart and brain. A man comes out from a famous Chinese restaurant, one of the most renowned in the city — a place where Chinese ravioli are served with champagne.
He’s thoughtful; he has conflicting ideas in mind, but perhaps, for the first time, one seems to have prevailed over the others.
Langosteria is a fine dining location, which has immediately become a point of reference for Milan’s nightlife. A menu based mainly on shellfish (Langouste – Osteria) and an impressive wine list represent its winning proposals. Three years earlier, in 2012, Buonocore repeated his success with Langosteria Bistrot, opening just a few meters away from his firstborn a more informal version of the same concept.
But now he has an important decision to make as he has the possibility to move two kilometers North East: via del Corso, the center of the center, a few steps away from the Cathedral; the city’s most international, well know, and characteristic area. A place, perfect for its size and position, is freed, the right way to do the right thing: the concept of Langosteria may expand to even more cosmopolitan customers, it can reach a showcase of global significance.
Thinking about it, it’s almost frightening, but Buonocore has well in mind its strengths: raw materials, a knowledgeable team, a surprising wine list. And then he has a vision: he starts with a customer base, and the rather small room allows him to recreate the climate of intimacy that has made the fortune of his other restaurants.
He already has a plan: a place with important aesthetic characteristics, with an open view kitchen, a relaxed atmosphere while remaining at the highest level. Everything is in place: creativity for the preparation of the room, the choices for the menu, the organization of the reception.
Not one more: this is the space that is available for the operational part, for the kitchen block.
Not enough for a product that requires articulated and complex processing steps. Not enough few for a brigade of 16 cooks that work under the eyes of the customers. Those 16 square meters have been sitting for weeks in Buonocore’s mind: they are very few.
But tonight, those 16 square meters don’t seem to be that few. Tonight he finally managed to imagine his Chefs, Sous-Chefs, and helpers harmoniously move in that space. He saw a kitchen in the restaurant he’s leaving. A kitchen in a little less than 16 square meters. An open view kitchen. He saw the brigade of cooks work, in a precise, well-matched, quick way.
This is how the relationship between Enrico Buonocore and Marrone started: from an evening in a renowned Chinese restaurant where Buonocore had dined, and for which Marrone had crafted a cooking block. The connection today is between Marrone and Langosteria Holding company which controls all three restaurants of Langosteria in Milan (plus the seasonal one in the bay of Paraggi in Santa Margherita Ligure), but this is another story, which perhaps we can leave for another time.
Langosteria Café, that’s the name of what in 2015 was only the project of an ambitious entrepreneur and now represents one of the points of reference of the culinary Milan.
Now Fabio Ferrandino smiles, thinking about it. He does it as a mountain climber recalling a conquered peak. Fabio is a Marrone account manager: he manages clients, projects and finds solutions. He talks with customers until it’s clear which path should be taken. With Enrico Buonocore, the process was long and articulated. As most of the times, it started out with a phone call. Entire afternoons were spent trying to figure out the problem: even with a fully customized cooking suite, studied by keeping ergonomics in mind, the space available for placing all the cooking block’s functionalities and for allowing the cooks to easily move around, was very little. Then, one day, a flash of inspiration, also thanks to the intervention of Denis Pedron and Mimmo Soranno, the Chefs of Langosteria: they had to map all the steps required for each of the menu’s recipes.
This way, they were able to understand not only the exact position each feature had to occupy in the kitchen, but also how to design its aspect in order to facilitate movements among the chefs at work. For Fabio, it would have been a work that goes beyond tailored design; an operation that would have penetrated up to the heart of the operations of the customer.
The process took some days, many attempts, and also some blind corners. Marrone’s design team and Buonocore’s staff shared ideas and doubts, they made steps forward and second thoughts and at the end, the road to take was finally clear.
At that moment, those in charge of the kitchen expressed a doubt which apparently seemed banal and not very significant at first: would ventilation induced through extractor fans be enough to guarantee the microclimate and at the same time the neutrality of the air with respect to kitchen odors? The project provided the best suction systems, however, further inspection would have given the ultimate answer.
The room has a double entrance; the cooking block had to be positioned right in the middle of internal drafts. During the inspection, Enrico and Fabio pushed the doors wide open and moved around the room. They stopped to think. In the end, the discovery: most likely, the internal airflow make a simple extractor fan not enough.
Fabio sticks to the phone, the whole office is gathered. In a few days, a team composed of specialists, external suppliers, and experts is working on the issue. It is a tough problem, where each variable implies another. Blades of air. This is the solution that the team offers: a system of blades of air that build a wall of drafts around the whole operational area, to block inside each smell whatever internal or external climatic conditions are.
Today Langosteria Café has become Enrico Buonocore’s international venue of reference. A fine dining restaurant that needs to be booked well in advance for a high-end culinary experience. The realization of the cooking suite proved to be a success: going through the whole process also allowed Buonocore to optimize staff and times, obtaining one of the haute cuisine restaurants with the fastest turnover of guests. The air-blade system has also become a reference model.
The bond between Marrone and Langosteria continues and has led to the revision of the kitchens of Langosteria via Savona and Langosteria Bistrot, transforming the realizations c rafted for these restaurants the flagships of Marrone’s design.