Valentino Cassanelli is the executive chef of Lux Lucis. The in-house restaurant of Hotel Principe in Forte dei Marmi, caught in a landscape embracing the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea in one single glance, transports guests to the heart and soul of a very special region
by Sophia Negri – photo by Lido Vannucchi
CASSANELLI’S IS A FREE EXPRESSION OF ITALIAN CUISINE. The inspiration behind each of his dishes is never the same, it springs from a desire to let the palate experience the emotion of a moment characterised by diverse flavours, aromas, textures, territories, contaminations, sensations, cultures, traditions, and techniques.
The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2017. It can boast 4 hats awarded by Le Guide dell’Espresso and in addition, showcases awards like the “Best bread 2018” award by Identità Golose and the “Best pasta 2019” award by Le Guide dell’Espresso.
His cuisine consists of dishes like spaghettoni with anchovies and burrata water, umeboshi and caviar, Mediterranean grilled blackfish, sea ribollita, ceviche from Fasolaro, and amberjack steak scalded with sea flavours. If you love desserts, don’t miss the creamy rice cake, a contemporary interpretation of memory from home.
Valentino’s dishes are a free expression of Italian cuisine, with unrestrained creativity, drawing not only from his own life experiences but also from the rich biodiversity surrounding the coastal town of Forte dei Marmi.
Valentino Cassanelli, class of 1984, learned the Emilian traditions from his grandmother and flew to London for an international-style technical training alongside Giorgio Locatelli, first, and then at Nobu. Back in Italy, he spent 3 years in the kitchens of Carlo Cracco until becoming junior sous-chef. The adventure at Lux Lucis began in 2012 and achieved a Michelin star in 2017.
Cassanelli’s inspiration also derives from his close collaboration with Maître Sommelier Sokol Ndreko, where dishes often take shape after carefully profiling the taste of particular wines. The result is menus that are delicately balanced and elegant, happily journeying from land to sea and delivering the very best in seasonal ingredients.
Recently, Valentino has collaborated closely with producers and the University of Pisa to rediscover and enhance local ingredients, such as theFrascone cabbage, which is typical of the Apuan Versilian hinterland, and the Pastinocello from Seravezza, a native primordial carrot that was in danger of extinction.
The menu is an individual experience in which a story unfolds through the raw material which comes from the sea and enters our interior dimension, with the exotic forays that Cassanelli has gotten his guests used to and which are part of his emotional substratum.
The experience he acquired in top-range restaurants pushed him to continuously seek new experimentations and combinations.
He knows how to combine traditional flavours with that concept of contemporaneity that makes each dish a surprise of flavours, textures, and a visual delight. In fact, he personally designs and studies the mise en place, like a true artist, an architect of plating, nothing can be left to chance: rigour, meticulous study, and aesthetics.
Cassanelli knows very well that any course is first consumed with the eyes and for this reason, he expertly combines each element.
(Valentino Cassanelli – Barchemagazine.com – August 2021)