MasterChef Italia 10, Francesco Aquila: “Cooking is not bad”

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Fear, in a hen’s neck. Love discovered in black garlic, «always felt and never used». Francesco Aquila, maître by profession, has left MasterChef as winner, first in a class of twenty. In his pocket, he put the cash prize, and an unprecedented baggage of awareness. «I knew how to bring dishes, interact with customers, prepare a plate of pasta. But the world, this world, was unknown to me and continues to be, ”he says, in the aftermath of the final which crowned him better than a complex edition, set up in time for Covid-19.

“What I would like today is to grow professionally”. Perhaps, opening the chain of restaurants he dreamed of during the auditions, when Antonino Cannavacciuolo, only among the judges, put his signature on his gray apron. «I would like to clarify that I do not feel like an Ambassador of Italian cuisine. I won MasterChef, but I’m nobody », he is keen to underline, even though a book with a dark cover is ready to arrive in the bookstore. My way – Uncle pot that recipes, the volume that every winner of the talent Sky has the opportunity to write, will be released in Italy on 11 March, one week before the grand finale.

Why did you decide to name it after the menu that earned you the victory?
«Because like the menu, it is divided into three parts. There is my Past, the Present and the Future. There are no difficult recipes, because at home you don’t want to make difficult recipes. In the part dedicated to the Past, I tried to go back to the origins, with simple dishes: pancotto, pasta and broccoli alla barese. I have actually mentioned Antonio in my book ».

So, didn’t you hate each other as it seemed?
“Antonio seemed more evil than he is. He’s a good guy, there was healthy competition between us, not that part of envy and aggression that emerged. In my book, I mentioned it. And I assure you that, if he had been unpleasant or disloyal, I would not have done it. ‘

The competition of MasterChef, however, it seemed a bit unfair this year.
“I can say that there were many who, out of fear and insecurities, tried to pull water on their mill. It also happens in real life, at work. You try to take everything you can and in the frenzy you end up getting hurt. I have remained friends with the people I have loved. I have never seen or heard the others. On the other hand, I entered a MasterChef without knowing them, they were not supposed to be my friends. It was a competition and we knew only one would survive ».

Who has remained your friend?
«Max, Jia Bi, Daiana, poi Monir, Edward».

And who would he have wanted with her in the final?
«I believe that in work, as in life, you need meritocracy. Antonio and Irene deserved the final. To be able to choose, however, I would have liked Edward and Monir, with whom I have bonded a lot ».

What is your relationship with the judges today?
«Reviewing the episodes, I’d like to write down every compliment they’ve given me and put it on the bulletin board. When I entered, it was Cannavacciuolo who chose me, but I think, then, a deep feeling developed with Bruno Barbieri ».

The judges, then, seem to have undermined the stereotype of the nastiness necessary for the kitchen. No more flying dishes, no more insults.
«It is changing a lot, and it is a beautiful message that is passing through. You can see that the judges are friends, and this is how a job should be: seriousness, when you have to, lightness when you can ».

Its path, a MasterChef, underwent a strong acceleration towards the middle of the competition. What drove her?
«The awareness, the consecration that took place when I realized how much I missed my daughter. I was there, fighting for something I really wanted, I was taking away her time. So I transformed my daughter’s lack into an engine. Time is so precious that no one can give it back to us. Making it happen pushed me to go to the maximum ».

What did he tell his daughter when he got home?
“My daughter is four years old. When I got back, I didn’t tell her I won. I told her I was going to go away on business, to do a TV show, but I kept the victory to myself. A little girl, perhaps, would have told it left and right ».

On television, he seemed at ease. A character, at times.
“Usually, I happen to be misrepresented. At first glance, I pair a superficial, selfish person who is only interested in appearing. I am glad that a MasterChef not the character has passed, but the person, attached to unforgettable values: family, friendship, one’s origins, loyalty, the importance of a smile and safety. It is necessary to believe in your goal ».

And in his own speech. “Uncle Bricco” has become a catchphrase. But what does it mean then?
«’Zio Bricco’ is an exclamation, like ‘Wow’ or ‘Damn’. It can be used positively or negatively, “Zio Bricco impestato” is its apotheosis ».

But would television do it?
“I would say yes. I don’t think cameras fit all characters. I have never felt this pressure, having a cameraman by my side has always been like having an ordinary person by my side ».

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