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November 10, 2021 November 2021, Regular Features No Comments

Attilio Bergamaschi

With a slightly different background from our usual residents, Attilio comes from Lodi in Northern Italy, South of Milan.
Like many other European towns, it has the Square at its heart. In the old days the Square was the marketplace where people traded cattle and produce.  Now although there is still some trading it is the place where everyone gathers, to drink a local aperitif, discuss politics, or just to gossip.  

After attending University in Turin, studying psychology, Attilio flew to London to experience the buzz of a large city. 

Just 29, he was faced with finding employment. London was big, noisy, and difficult but after a week he found a position as a sales representative, then sales manager in a Provencal Olive Oil shop. 

A move followed to La Fromagerie, in Marylebone, which supplied cheese and fresh produce to some of the best restaurants in London, Jamie Oliver’s, Gordon Ramsey’s, Ottolenghi’s and the River Café.

  “It was here that my passion for food and produce grew.  A book by Giorgio Locatelli “Made in Italy” made me want to cook. I knew what I wanted to do, but without qualifications or experience no one would take me. However, I was determined. Then I heard about Skye Gyngell, at the Petersham Nurseries Café, who was rising to the top of the London scene.  Each time I delivered produce to Skye; I would ask whether I could work in her kitchen. And each time I would receive the same reply. “Let’s speak next week darling.” 

Finally, a break came, and Attilio was offered a position. “Skye was inspiring, generous and full of energy, says Attilio.  None of us was a trained chef. The food was modern, British, defined by seasonality, subtle and of exquisite taste. We could have ravioli, duck confit, bread, and butter pudding on the menu at the same time as Sri Lankan Curry, tomato and chili jam.  It was beautiful and brave.”

  The restaurant was set amongst a nursery where flowers and plants emphasised that nature was leading the way. “The first day I arrived Skye took me out to the garden to talk about the menu. She was always repeating the fact that nothing is more perfect than nature.”

The restaurant won a Michelin Star in 2010 and then all changed. Bookings escalated, critics scrutinised every dish, exposure was immense, and the stress escalated. Skye left the restaurant due to what she called the Curse of the Michelin Star. 

From 2011, Attilio worked as a private chef for a succession of wealthy clients. Then with his wife Helen, and two young sons they moved to New Zealand, where Attilio now works at Moy Hall.  “The staff are very professional. The owners Phill and Carolyn Mc Arthur have a strong and clear vision, plus a modern 

understanding of the importance of good food.  These are essential values for me”, says Attilio.  Martinborough is a good place to be.”

Lyle Griffiths

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