On the fifth night of this year’s Obsession festival I was lucky enough to get a booking at Northcote’s dining room to enjoy a truly unique meal. Angelo Sabatelli and Marco Stabile – two incredible chefs doing amazing things in Italy – were teaming up for one night of gastronomic splendour. I took my mother along, and on our table we were joined by two of the chefs (and their teams) who will be cooking at the festival at a later date – Taiwan’s Lanshu Chen and Japanese three-starred legend Hideaki Matsuo. I thought it would be interesting to see what they thought of Italian food, but as I was about to realise, the dishes we would be eating are nothing like the classics you’d expect from an Italian chef.
The duo who would be cooking for us have each won a Michelin star at their restaurants – Marco’s in Tuscany, Angelo’s in Puglia – but have wildly different approaches to food. Angelo uses the best ingredients from across Italy to create his unique dishes with modern twists, taking inspiration from his time in places like Bangkok, Shanghai and Indonesia (something that seriously interested the two Asian chefs at our table). Marco, on the other hand, puts an emphasis on the story behind his food, bringing his own personal journey to life. By calling his dishes names such as ‘If a meteorite falls in Tuscany’ and ‘Remembering my father’, he instantly makes his cuisine a talking point at the table.
One thing Northcote is particularly good at is putting on a show for guests, and the night certainly didn’t disappoint. We were able to watch all the hustle and bustle of the kitchen via screens while we relaxed in the luxurious dining room; a place of unbelievable tranquillity and calm. As we eagerly awaited Angelo’s first dishes, we tucked into some amazing sourdough and Lancashire cheese rolls (one of my mother’s highlights).