Slow Food is…Zero kilometer?

Our first night at Slow food and we were all dumbfounded by the David Scabin dinner at his two star Michelin restaurant in Rivoli named combal zero. The idea of slow food, zero kilometer, and the very basis of slow food was brusquely interrupted by the overall nature of the dinner, a bizarre setting and even more, strange molecular cuisine. How sad it was last night cannot be described in words only.

Table after table, 10 per table and the room could barely handle the volume given it’s narrow and long. We couldn’t think of a worse way to start slow food, and between laughing, we all felt like crying, it all looked more like a middle class wedding.

Slow food is about traceability, the protection of mother nature, and the guarding of tradition and processes. When we booked this two star Michelin restaurant ( we were under the impression it would be just that. Certainly at €150/ticket, we believed that the dinner would be made up of “slow foods” and when we arrived we found just the opposite.


The slow food motto is about sustainability and the food at Davide Scabin’s dinner was hardly on the same wavelength. I suppose if it tasted extraordinary, we would have all felt differently, or even persuaded to feel as if it was a special event.

The flow of dishes, made it almost painful, and the uovo di mare, a taste inedible, a silly molecular dish that is not only passé, it seemed so out-of-place with a peperone corno from Carmagnola hidden under the foamed egg whites to imitate sea urchin – it was over thought.


We started to wonder about this dinner after they served a cappuccino di palamita e fagioli, a bizzare white soupy combination of milk and sea. How does Palamita a small bonito caught off the shores off Tuscany find itself in such an odd concoction at a Michelin restaurant?


The seven course dinner went all wrong when they served egg whites foamed in a yellow broth. Served with some popcorn it seemed so out of context and was not what we expected. This was an example of how a chef can send the wrong message. We expected more traditional cuisine with a modern twist and popcorn in food has a small window of opportunity – at a movie theater. It seemed that the chef made up a menu on paper without thinking about it carefully enough and had to impress a crowd of Slow foodies.

After this we couldn’t wait for more, the next dishes included BBQ animella, the thymus gland of an animal served barbequed and accompanied by cardoon, a slow food protected vegetable. I highly doubt the chefs creative instincts last night were are in the spirit of what a slow food member would expect, not to mention the wines.

Perhaps the worst dish was the risotto zafferano splattered with a salsa of black truffle served on top of cheese from puglia, a straccetti di bufala. The black truffle salsa was bitter and the dish looked strange, a black blob in the middle of the soft cheese.

Eating at Cobal.Zero celebrates its recognition as a Kilometer Zero Restaurant, a program of Slow Food which indicates a certain percentage of the menu must come from within 100km but it was not the case at all. The chef’s overall disconnection to what slow food stands for was exemplified by the dinner last night, and sadly it starts to look as if slow food is a machine that is losing control of its very own principals.

The idea that a chef can take fantastic raw materials and jumble them into an awful mess was so apparent. There should be some soft restrictions of what a chef can and cannot do. It doesn’t make any sense that a farmer works so hard to preserve and protect his terroir, and then you have a chef destroy the very essence of those raw materials in his kitchen.

I am not trying to say that we can control a chefs creative process or what he does in his kitchen. It makes sense to have some fundamental guidelines in place to ensure that a slow food chef doesn’t destroy the hard work of others and by doing so, he diminishes the very essence of slow food raw materials.

We start to wonder who is to blame; is it the chef, the client or the organization, or all of the above? In our view a chef has the basic responsibility to understand the essence of raw materials, interfere as little as possible and respect the hard work of others.

The moral of the story is: when something good becomes too good to be true, it is no longer true.