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Georges Cogny and the “Antica Osteria del Teatro” (Piacenza)

anticaosteria-1Going back few years through my culinary life, I realize how fast the wheel is turned! Events, emotions, characters, gastronomic evolutions in conclusion forty years and not hear one it might say, but then so is not.

In the 80’s if I remember some restaurateur told the newspapers, that you had to stop in the parking areas where there were many trucks, there you could eat well for sure! It is also said that starred restaurants were a French kitchen. Spaceballs!

To be honest it was one of those restaurant to be really French setting, because the chef was French, his name was Georges Cogny married to Lucia from Piacenza, Farini d’Olmo, where he opened his restaurant “La Cantoniera” proposing a typical “Piacenza” cuisine.

Georges and Lucia met eachother in France in Deauville in Normandy. It is said that he won over her not with a bunch of roses or a serenade under the window, but with a pork sausage, combined with sole, pike, salmon, scallops and lobster that have a French/ Piacenza cooking flavour. It was a truly original way to a promise of marriage, but shortly afterwards they found themselves to manage their restaurant “Cantoniera” of Farini d’Olmo.

The start was muted, which idea of kitchen to continue? He was a very good chef but isolated out of the traditional gastronomic stops was also difficult to make it known.

But eventually someone comes down in the city began to spread the news that at the Cantoniera there was a very good chef and later also went Franco Ilari  that then became a partner and led him to Piacenza for that project which was  the restaurant in Piacenza that the “Antica Osteria del Teatro”.

The inauguration of their restaurant took place at the end of seventy’s, after years of work to transform what was a liquor store in a fancy restaurant with works by important artists and an extreme attention to detail.

Franco unlike Georges was more enterprising, well set in the restaurant world brings prominent figures, such as Massimo Alberini, Luigi Veronelli Brovelli brothers and many others.

They prepared a cellar among the best in Italy at that time, major labels but also wines that Franco was able to get from private.

Georges avoided as much as possible to be out of the kitchen, he’s always been shy person, he loved to talk to her team and even when he was at Cantoniera if he had the right guests, he liked to relize French dishes.

Now, however, he has a chance to give his best, and seeks its own identity. The ideas come from the past, but the moment comes also from the nouvelle cuisine! It keeps some time to tell the truth, then returns to the traditional cuisine of French hotels, obviously semplifyed to meet the taste of the Italian guests.

It must also say that he was an innovator, he used herbs and spices that went to look abroad, now everyone uses them but at that time they were satisfyed to territorial ones, instead he was already working with chervil, chives,  star anise and so on, not to mention some commodities such as foie gras lamb, pigeons and so on that he imported directly from France.

For those who knew her cooking retain a special remembrance made of precise cooking, balanced sauces. He was able to impassion with her recipes for gourmets, always discovering good restaurants.

In his kitchens it has gone even collegues that are now at the top as Massimo Bottura, Isa Mazzocchi and Filippo Chiappini Dattilo who took over the suite when Georges went back to the origins in the house of the Cantoniera.

After giving his younger years in the tavern for health problems Georges and Lucia, came back to Farini, where they continued their activities for some time.

Georges has not been forgotten, each year in Farini the Mayor organizes a gastronomic event, where historical students of the great chef cook many dishes that recall his figure.

Fausto Arrighi

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