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Massimo Spigaroli

Soon after, Massimo quickly rose to fame across Italy when he appeared on the television show What Are You Making to Eat?, and became one of the elected chefs to help promote the key ingredients (such as Parmesan and Parma ham) of Emilia-Romagna. At the age of twenty-two he was invited to teach at his old hotel school in Salsomaggiore and stayed for five years, sharing his love and knowledge of Italian cooking with other young chefs.

In 1990 Massimo and his family bought the eighteenth century Court Corte Pallavicina, the place where his grandfather had worked to raise pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks. They soon went about rebuilding and expanding the business, planting poplars, watermelons, wheat, melica and vegetables. In the winter they cured pork using traditional methods, and even took contracts to clear roads of snow, started a ferry service across the River Po and began making concrete blocks.

It was with hard work and dedication that the family restored the beautiful medieval building to become a Relais and Chateaux restaurant, where Massimo could showcase his cooking using the best ingredients of the region. As well as cooking in the kitchen, he has become the world’s most important producer of Culatello (a type of prosciutto) which is stored in the impressive cellar below the building. ‘I want to give and add value to what my grandfather, my father and my mother did, not to lose the tradition of these products and this place. My restaurant starts from the land and ends with an amazing dish.’

Three things you should know

In 2007 Prince Charles invited Massimo to his farm in Wales to act as a consultant gourmet pork butcher.

Massimo sells around 5,000 of his hams every year, mostly to the world’s top chefs such as Massimo Bottura and Gualtiero Marchesi.

As well as helping Culatello ham gain DOP status, Massimo has helped bring rare breed pigs back from the brink of extinction on his farm.