Davide Nanni, the wild chef from Abruzzo who cooks outdoors

Mar 2 2024, 15:27
The love for nature is so strong that it has become the protagonist of his recipes: the wild chef from Abruzzo has won everyone over with his simplicity and great technique

"I'm crazy," sang Pino Daniele; Davide Nanni paraphrased it as "I'm wild." He's not Neapolitan but Abruzzese: speaking is the Instagram star chef with over 310,000 followers, but beware of calling him an influencer. "I'm a chef, I love nature, and I like to spend time with my family. I share all this on social media, but only when and how it makes me feel good." However, he owes something to social media: on February 27th, his first book was released, "A sentimento. La mia cucina libera, sincera, selvaggia" (Mondadori), but the audience had already been captivated by his nonconformist spirit and dishes prepared in the woods, cooked on stones with few utensils available.

Photo Andrea Calvano

The "wild" chef who is not Influenced

To be honest, Davide isn't that unconventional. He is tied to his parents, the mountains, and isn't ashamed to show his emotions. He uses social media in his way, "they are a tool, I don't let them dictate the rules," and despite his wealth of experiences – including working with Locatelli in London right after hotel school – what he seeks is simply delicious food. Dishes that you never get tired of, like those at his agriturismo Locanda Nido d'Aquila. With an Abruzzese heart "and my surrounding experiences." And perhaps it's precisely his willingness not to be different at all costs, not to build a character around the number of followers, that makes him so bold.

He jokingly says he's a "boomer inside," he found success in the digital world – it all started in February 2022 with a video shot outdoors with his dad – but he's not very familiar with technology, "I don't even have an Amazon account." His true love is nature, which he also showcases on Instagram and serves as the backdrop for his cooking. Each recipe is linked to an emotion, a memory, and he wanted to divide his book into sentimental chapters, between family anecdotes and experiences around the world.

He truly believes in the land and gives everything to it. For some time, he chose to take over the family agriturismo in Castrovalva, a beautiful village in the Valle del Sagittario: "We make cheeses, cured meats; my grandfather Angelo started it, for him, the sheep came first, then my parents decided to open the restaurant." It was 1997, Davide lived in Rome, his parents found out about funding for agriturism and gave up everything, returning to the village "only after taking a cooking course."

Photo Andrea Calvano

The value of family

Many recipes shared on social media have become part of the menu, which Davide – the only chef managing everything – changes frequently. He took his first steps in the kitchen under the supervision of his grandmothers: Dalia was the queen of fresh pasta, Adriana excelled in sweets, together they were a force of nature, "they tied a scarf on their heads and made 20 kg of fresh egg pasta a day to help my parents with the restaurant." It was the tart of Grandma Dalia, prepared as always in the woods, that sealed the success of Davide's Instagram profile, "then I was invited by Antonella Clerici on TV, an opportunity that gave me great visibility, besides making my girlfriend known."

Photo Andrea Calvano

The dishes of the Wild Chef

The restaurant is almost always sold out now, customers' favorite dishes are the cold Parmigiana with eggplants, stracciatella, and red onions, and the mini lamb burger with crispy tesa bacon, Sulmona garlic bulbs, red onion, and forest fruit mayonnaise. Not to mention the mythical Abruzzo carbonara, the chef's flagship, who remains very attached to the Capital, with lamb chunks that recall the flavor of the classic lamb "cacio e ova."

The most irreverent dish? "The Bounty of Abruzzo, with our own ricotta. It was born, among other things, from a love/hate: my mother goes crazy for the coconut bar, which I don't like at all. I didn't know what to invent for dessert anymore, then when I saw the snack in the fridge, I had an enlightenment." And did the Abruzzesi like it? "Sure. There will always be criticisms, but I am very satisfied to see the restaurant full."

The dream in the drawer?

"For now, I rejoice in what I have, I am ready to welcome what will come. What matters is carrying on the family business, honoring my parents' sacrifices, and finding new people willing to work in the countryside."

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram