Fabio Picchi is the owner of Cibreo Restaurant and Cibreo Café in Florence. His presence fills a room like an actor under a spotlight fills a stage, his mane of white hair pulled back under a pair of glasses that rest at the top of his head, in a chef’s coat, massive hands gesturing and often laughing, somewhat mischievously. Throughout the day, waiters and cooks rush across the street between his two establishments exchanging ingredients and help.
A third building houses the Teatro del Sale, where Fabio runs the kitchen, serving family-style ten-course meals, yelling out the names of each dish along with reprimands and instructions on how each should be handled (“you can’t put cheese on top!”). After his own performance each night, Maria Cassi, his wife and creative director of the theater, takes the stage and laughter expands bellies that are already quite full.
A man with moving hands, Fabio is a whirlwind creative force, the kind that assistants struggle to keep up with, that instantly either magnetizes or intimidates new acquaintances. Fabio designs meals, which naturally extends to many other things, including coats. Soft cotton chef’s coats, with velvet ribbed stitching on the inside seams and recipes printed on the lining, like poems, the ingredients for a minestrone or pomodoro, where the words can be pressed to the heart as soon as the jacket is buttoned.
Fabio’s coats reminds me of another guerrilla recipe, for German Streusel, which I saw taped to a telephone pole in Vancouver last October. Why aren’t more of us sharing our secret, favorite dishes with the world? Not on only blogs, but on lampposts and pillowcases, scrawled on the backs of telephone books or the sides of buildings?