Nadia Santini is the brilliant chef behind the Dal Pescatore in Mantova, Italy. Never having worked in another kitchen, Santini’s ascension in the working world is astonishing. She was awarded the 2013 Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female chef.
She studied food chemistry and latterly political science with sociology at the prestigious University of Milan, where she meet future husband Antonio Santini. After their marriage she learned how to cook traditional Mantuan cuisine with Antonio’s grandmother and mother.
The first woman in Italy to have received three Michelin Stars (a rating the Dal Pescatore retains since 1996), Santini said on an interview given to The Observer “I think it is impossible for a woman to run a kitchen that serves 100 people. I can’t give my heart to a dish if I am cooking for more than 30.”
At the Dal Pescatore, with her mother-in-law Bruna (who is 84 now) Santini turned rustic dishes into works of art.
Tortelli comes stuffed to bursting with a mixture of pumpkin, amaretto, Parmesan and mostarda while turbot arrives partnered with a respectably minimalistic garnish of parsley, anchovies and capers suspended in a delicate olive oil sauce – The World’s 50 Best
“The cuisine is refined but not changed (…) Dal Pescatore is an expression of the evolution of the food on our table and the surrounding environment.”