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Riccardo Camanini

After turning forty, Riccardo was tired of working in someone else’s kitchen and decided to open his own restaurant with his brother in 2014. ‘We found a retro lido [outdoor swimming pool] by Lake Garda which was owned by an old lady and her family,’ he explains. ‘We wanted to respect her legacy and kept the name Lido 84. In fact, we made very few changes to the actual building, but designed a décor that was inspired by the colours of the lake, 1960s art deco and the works of Italian actor Riccardo Fellini.

‘Our philosophy for the restaurant was to pay homage to the quality of time,’ continues Riccardo. ‘We look at the dining experience as a whole; every detail counts and our dishes must show respect to the ingredients we use and the customers who come through our doors. I respect the products, the techniques and the mystery that can be found in every plate of food.’

Perhaps the most obvious example of Riccardo’s cooking philosophy is his infamous dish of cacio e pepe cooked inside a pig’s bladder – quite possibly one of the most Instagrammed dishes in Italy. ‘The idea came about one day after work when I went back to my brother’s house,’ he explains. ‘We poured a glass of wine and watched television. I had been thinking about creating a spicy, strong dish for the menu but didn’t know which direction to go in. I’d read about this Roman technique of using animal organs as containers to cook in – Bartolomeo Scappi, the Pope’s chef in the 1500s wrote a whole book about it. After trying a few different pasta dishes that turned out too al dente, I decided cacio e pepe had just enough cheese and liquid to make the pasta soft enough. It took a long time to get the dish right but it is a favourite of mine.’

Working with people like Gualtiero Marchesi and Raymond Blanc has made produce just as important as the cooking techniques for Riccardo, and he’s constantly working with suppliers to make sure he only gets the very best. ‘We have an excellent fisherman who catches us pike and sardines from the lake, and a butcher who is just as open-minded as me [he says this while picking through a box of sheep heads, inspecting the brains and eyes]. We are also resourceful – we make the most of the cedar trees and herbs surrounding us, using an extractor to make juices and oils from what we forage, to add to broths or risottos.’

Three things you should know

Riccardo was named Chef of the Year 2017 by Identità Golose, thanks to his dedication to working with historic ingredients and exploring Italy’s culinary past.

Riccardo’s dish of spaghettoni with butter and brewer’s yeast was once described by Alain Ducasse as the best dish he’s ever tasted.

The regional differences and provenance of Italian cuisine is what Riccardo believes makes it one of the best in the world, and his food perfectly reflects the flavours of the land surrounding Lido 84.