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Young and brilliant, Federico Rottigni is a highly-rated italian pastry chef. His mantra is to live ‘outside the box’, his philosophy is 'creative pastry’. A methodical and curious beauty lover, who’s ‘a bit moody’. Federico is an explosion of flavours, like the desserts he creates. Today, he lives and works in Norway. From here his introspective journey begins, in trusting a certain nostalgia for his city, Milan.

You have chosen Oslo, in Norway, as the ideal place for your first experience abroad. Tell me, how come this particular country?

I’ve been coming and going there for two years because of love affairs, and a sort of curiosity has born. The Nordic mentality of tolerance and social rights has always intrigued me. I wanted to give it a go and, in addition, I needed to take a break from the Milanese routine I was in about two years ago and have some thoughts settle in my head. All these things brought me here.

What do you miss about Italy and Milan?

Honestly, I miss Italy and Milan much more than I ever expected. I miss human relationships in the first place, the little things; I miss the spontaneity and warmth of people and the greatness of small gestures. I obviously miss the food and I have to admit that having a winter of 9/10 months a year is objectively not easy. Things like drinking a coffee at the counter, having happy hour with my friends in a bar nearby or improvising a pizza with friends 20 minutes earlier. Here all the ‘happenings’ (very sparse) are organized months in advance.

Federico Rottigni

Young and brilliant, Federico Rottigni is a highly-rated italian pastry chef. His mantra is to live ‘outside the box’, his philosophy is 'creative pastry’. A methodical and curious beauty lover, who’s ‘a bit moody’. Federico is an explosion of flavours, like the desserts he creates. Today, he lives and works in Norway. From here his introspective journey begins, in trusting a certain nostalgia for his city, Milan.

You have chosen Oslo, in Norway, as the ideal place for your first experience abroad. Tell me, how come this particular country?

I’ve been coming and going there for two years because of love affairs, and a sort of curiosity has born. The Nordic mentality of tolerance and social rights has always intrigued me. I wanted to give it a go and, in addition, I needed to take a break from the Milanese routine I was in about two years ago and have some thoughts settle in my head. All these things brought me here.

What do you miss about Italy and Milan?

Honestly, I miss Italy and Milan much more than I ever expected. I miss human relationships in the first place, the little things; I miss the spontaneity and warmth of people and the greatness of small gestures. I obviously miss the food and I have to admit that having a winter of 9/10 months a year is objectively not easy. Things like drinking a coffee at the counter, having happy hour with my friends in a bar nearby or improvising a pizza with friends 20 minutes earlier. Here all the ‘happenings’ (very sparse) are organized months in advance.

Federico Rottigni

Perfection does not exist in life. But aesthetic matters. I’m a beauty lover. And I've always been an aesthete.

What’s your very first memory behind the stove?

When I was very small, according to reliable sources (my mother), I had the habit to open the kitchen cabinets and pull out all the pans, putting them on the ground. I have memories of me as a child, next to my mother or my grandmother, helping them cleaning the beans or small similar tasks with vegetables. We, Italians, are lucky to grow up submerged in gastronomy and, generally speaking, we don’t even notice it. To us, it's simply normal.

A quote from one of your Instagram posts that depicts a macaron: “The maniacally of one's passions. The cuddle to observe a detail in silence”. Is your cookery idea explained here?

Not only! But I can say that's an important part. I've always been a maniac of details. Everything that’s manual has always reminded me of an innate need for attention to the gesture. But even in life details give me oxygen. I love accessories, objects with a story. Having a particular pen in the jacket or a pair of glasses are little things that make me fly two feet off the ground, without others having to know it.

In pastry, "perfection" and "aesthetic" are fundamental principles. How much do they count in your life?

Not much perfection, as perfection is a relative concept. The perfection I prefer (and demand) is technical, but only regarding my work. Perfection does not exist in life. But aesthetic matters. I’m a beauty lover. And I've always been an aesthete. I like clothes, art, shoes, accessories, glasses. I like a nice car or a nice house. Aesthetic plays a very important role in my life, and also directly on the concept of my appearance.

Let's talk about ‘taste'. How do you invent new taste combinations? Do you think that today some ingredients or desserts are more ‘fashionable’ than others?

Usually I create for work necessities, therefore under the invitation of someone else, or simply because I feel like it. I generally imagine the taste combinations. It’s a fairly common thing to learn, over time, to imagine flavours. This is a typical thing for chefs after years of experience. It may seem unusual to some, but I think it's quite common. That being said, there are trendy ingredients, with real seasons. When I started working as a pastry chef, it was the time of matcha green tea, how much I hated it! What I always try to do is precisely to get away from the ingredient of the moment and try to use others. I get bored easily.

Among all of creations, is there one you’re particularly fond of?

There are a couple of combinations that I’ve used in my career that I really like. I’m not saying they’re exclusively mine (everyone has done so much that sometimes it’s really difficult to give oneself a record). As a greedy combination, I love a tart that I made with wholemeal spelled shortbread, fig compote, milk chocolate ganache with earl gray tea infusion and fresh figs. As an interesting combination, I developed a dessert here last year in Norway, based on lemon cream, candied bitter lemon, caper powder and verbena sorbet. An explosion of acid, bitter, veggie and salty flavours. A slap on the face at the end of a meal!

A maniacal approach and a minimal way while cooking. But what kind of person is Federico when he undresses the role of pastry chef?

When I work, I’m methodical. Outside I'm messy and careless. I lost an endless list of hats, scarves, umbrellas, jackets. I'm tending towards minimalism even in life. I’m non-stop anxious, but I try desperately to always be positive. Perhaps, a bit moody and very sensitive. I’m very dedicated to whatever I do. And then I'm a lion in cage. The only thing is that I haven't figured out what kind of cage yet.

What did you learn from taking part in TV programs?

First of all, I enjoyed it a lot. Always. The real success of a TV program is when those in front of the camera can really enjoy themselves; because this can even pass without awareness at home. I was lucky enough to have various and different television experiences; but the most fun of all was my very first on Real Time, with Il Re del Cioccolato. It was an unforgettable experience and one of the funniest things in my life. We, pastry chefs and troupe kids, have almost become a family during the two seasons and two years, so much so that we are still in touch years later. I truly consider myself a lucky one.

Are you addicted to your cellphone and social media?

I’m more than dependent on the phone, and on social media as in reality I also use them a lot for work. Social networks are taking a weird turn. Perhaps they are burning a little, on the line of ‘too much’. I'm thinking that, maybe, we should go back to highlighting the true essence of an experience and not just the appearance of the image. The social media are standardizing a little the whole concept of appearing on many themes, cooking in the first place. The thoughts I express on my social accounts are still confused, but they certainly try to look at the next step of my philosophy as a professional.

What would you change about your career, if anything?

Sincerely? I wouldn't change anything. Maybe I would have finished high school and would have done university. But I would have started too late to do what I do, I couldn't have done it and I would have given up. So, actually, all I did was useful, for better or for worse. Maybe, I would have sent more people to hell. However, their words came in handy later, because they taught me something very precious, of what not to become. In the end, I have to thank them too.

What are your dreams yet to happen?

I have so many dreams. Definitely, I would like to calm myself down as a person. I always live at 200km/h and, maybe, I should learn to live my job and my life even more carefree. I would like to find a key to be able to express my idea of creative pastry, entertaining and doing work that intersects the idea of traditional pastry today in Italy. Both as a subject in itself and as a sensorial and experiential concept. Why not, maybe doing it in a place of my own. I would certainly like to return to Milan one day. Milan is becoming too beautiful!