“In food we trust!” preach Stefano Paleari and Riccardo Casiraghi of Gnam Box. And they practice just that. Engaged, inspired, and focused obsessively on the seasonal and local in their hometown of Milan, Italy, they spend their days exploring the city talking with local farmers and producers to learn new tips and recipes. Then they share those recipes, lessons, and culinary adventures with a rapidly growing, international readership through their website and Instagram following. We talked with Stefano about Italian food and its misconceptions, how they define their seasonally-focused food philosophy, and who’d make the list of their dream dinner party (spoiler alert: it’s us).
Tell us about the most recent great meal you enjoyed.
Last night we tried a new recipe at home and it was delicious. Basically it was a soup made from Jerusalem Artichokes. It was our first time using this ingredient and the result was amazing! We finished it with sage, hazelnuts, olive oil and yogurt. Aside from cooking at home, we recently went to Ratanà, one of our favorite restaurant in Milan. The chef, Cesare Battisti, served us a great Spinach risotto.
What's your process for developing new recipes? How do you describe your food philosophy?
In food we trust and our recipes speak about us! Our process depends by the moment. Sometimes we want to try to cook something that we ate at the restaurant, other times we are just inspired by nice images found on Instagram or in a magazine. We want to use seasonal, local food and we love to go to the market where we can find all the best vegetables. We’re not that kind of people that follow specific diets. At home we try to be vegetarian but when we're out we want to try everything.
What do you like best about Italian cuisine? Are there any misconceptions about it that you'd like to address?
Oh man, we are not only pizza and pasta! Italian food is amazing because there are so many different local cuisines. Everywhere you go you can discover different ingredients, cooking methods, and traditional recipes. We love to cook with the seasons and chat with the farmers and the producers at the markets to discover secrets and recipes. In Italy we also have amazing cheeses and we are in love with red wines from the northeast (Lagrein and Pinot nero). From the south we love Fiano and Passerina white wines. The weather in the south of Italy is amazing so you can find delicious tomatoes and fruits in summertime!
Sometimes it can be hard to have two good cooks in the kitchen... How do you two divide responsibilities and not step on each other's toes?
Good question! In the beginning it was quite hard, always a fight between us about what to cook and in which way. Now we decide together what to cook, we go together to the market and then we cook separately. When one of us is cooking the other one is thinking about the table set or vice versa. When we need to shoot photos, Riccardo cooks and I (Stefano) take all the pictures with the camera.
Do you have any tips for food bloggers and instagrammers looking to build their audience?
For us it’s really important to be ourselves. Instagram is the social network that we like the most, so for us it’s important to post realistic and beautiful pictures. We don’t like Instagram profiles that are not spontaneous. It’s important to post at least one pic a day. When we started Gnam Box we wanted to show us through our recipes, it’s really important to be real with your audience, to cook what you really like and to post places because you like them for real.
You get to have a dream dinner party for six people: who would you invite if you could invite anyone, alive or dead?
Ah, love it! On the list: Sam Smith, Dan Churchill, Kevin Spacey, Cameron Diaz, Jake Gyllenhaal and Beyoncè. If you want you can join us too :)
Discover more at gnambox.com
Photos courtesy Gnam Box