From the choice of recipes to…surprises: “The forest, the flowers, the swing: I wanted this fairy tale atmosphere. And a kitchen without competition, practical and confidential”
October 13, 2022 at 08:02
It’s Friday, it’s 2:30 p.m. and for Antonella Clerici finished another week of work with “It’s still noon!”. He returns to his “house in the woods” in Val Borbera. “I travel with Monica, my beautiful blonde driver who always accompanies me from my home to Milan and vice versa,” says the host happily. “And when these two blondes drive by they all look at us (Laughs)!”.
Antonella, for 22 years she has been on the air at noon, Monday to Friday. What do you do on Saturday and Sunday noon?
“Saturday noon I accompany my daughter Maelle who goes horse riding, while Sunday is the time of day when I make avocado toast for everyone.”
“Yes, our Sunday lunch is a brunch and in this period I love the avocado toast, which I cook with the toast we make at home, avocado mixed with lemon, ginger, salt, pepper, salmon and poached egg. Around 1 p.m. we eat and there are always many of us because Vittorio’s children are also there on weekends (Garrone, the companion of Antonella, ed.)”.
Apart from noon, how do you spend your weekends?
“No social events, no make-up and various hairstyles, just family and dear friends. This is the time of the week that I dedicate to physical activity. I get up early in the morning, I never slept, even as a girl”.
So he gets up early, and what does he do?
“Both on Saturdays and Sundays, I walk in the woods when the weather is nice or I do indoor exercises if it rains. Saturday is dedicated to Vittorio and Maelle. Sometimes I like to take Maelle for a little shopping. Sunday is the day for leisure, relaxation and the couch. And the afternoon is reserved for the big movie, or the television series, with popcorn and a lit fireplace”.
And after the movie?
“Sunday evening we have dinner with pizza”.
Coming to TV: is it true that you don’t like cooking contests anymore?
“I did a lot: at ‘La prova del cuoco’ we had the contest. Today, I prefer cooking programs where I can learn something”.
What do you mean?
“For example, ‘MasterChef’ is a great competition, but in my opinion it’s not a cooking show, it’s a talent show, where you don’t see much of cooking. The minutes, the seconds, the time that passes are more linked to the talent and in any case to the programs put together, not to live like ours. In this period of my life, I prefer a more familiar, more intimate, more narrated cuisine, this is the idea from which we started with the director of Raiuno Stefano Coletta to imagine the program”.
Every day he enters his fairy tale studio with enthusiasm, almost running with enthusiasm. She also has heels…
“(He’s laughing). The context is the house in the woods, so I have adapted clothes: jeans, colored shirt and of course the boots which have a small heel but which are comfortable. It is a country image. And then I start by commenting on the news because I like to emphasize the fact that we are live.
Where do the dishes you prepare end up?
“Everything is eaten by those working on the program: nothing is thrown away.”
Does she eat it too?
“Sometimes you taste something, but I have to restrain myself otherwise I would have already reached 200 kilos! “.
But he is in great shape: what does he eat?
“After the show, I go to the dressing room and have breakfast with what I bring from home and prepare in the morning. Usually wholemeal pasta topped with tomatoes, zucchini, seasonal vegetables or Cantonese rice. In the evening, on the other hand, I eat proteins because I have learned that in order not to gain weight, I must not touch carbohydrates after 5 p.m.
So how’s your dinner?
“A legume or vegetable soup or grilled meat with cooked vegetables, or roast beef, roast, chicken”.
Back to the program. Do you know exactly what is going to happen before an episode or are there things you deliberately ignore?
“Surprises, like when Alfio dresses in a strange way, are not anticipated because when I am amazed, you can read on my face and it is good that the public participates in my amazement”.
And for the rest ?
“I know everything that happens in the episode, but I don’t have a script. I compete with the writers on the programming, I know what the chefs are cooking, I change the recipes…”.
Based on what?
“My rule is never to start the episode with a meat or fish recipe.”
“Because at noon in southern Italy they still taste cappuccino in their mouths (smiles). Then you need to start with a cake or an appetizer, which for this hour is more appetizing. Then I want the last recipe before Fulvio Marino’s bread, which closes the episode, to be very quick because I think of those who come home at ten, are terribly hungry and while waiting for the news they watch us and want to take inspiration a quick, easy and delicious recipe. These are some of the rules I learned cooking on TV for 22 years in this group.
“I know how to position the recipes. With the authors I make the grid of recipes for the week, which vary according to the weather: is it raining? It’s snowing? It’s hot? I am also a fan of seasonality. It’s time for mushrooms, it’s clear that we redo the recipes with mushrooms but they are there from time to time and then they are gone, there is no point in making cabbage which is so available all year round. ‘year ! Deciding on the composition is not easy: for example, the chatter is better in the first part of the program than in the second”.
“Our show is more radio at the beginning and more television in the second half, when people start to come into the kitchen, where they have the TV, and follow us. In the first part, however, they’re all still wandering around the rooms tidying up the house and they’re only listening to you.”
In short, behind there is a meticulous study.
“Already. And I’m passionate about marketing. I’m an animator who also knows the positioning of commercial breaks… there’s a whole study behind it, not only recipes and cooks, but also the structure of the I watch what our competitors are doing, as they watch us”.
Who is in charge of the music when you are live?
“Maestro Andrea Casamento, who is there with us in the studio and puts the music live. In addition to the acronyms, there is the conductors’ entrance music (each has their own). For the rest, the teacher decides to put music that emphasizes the mood of the program. We don’t have a script, we have a track. The gobbist only writes the title of the recipe and the ingredients: the rest is our own flour”.
And then there is Alfio…
“He’s so funny, he lives in the valley next to mine and there too he’s the showman, the person everyone loves, because that’s exactly how he is: kind, greedy and jovial.”
She talked about commercial breaks, but she calls them commercials.
“I’ve always called them that, ever since I started doing ‘La prova del cuoco’. Maurizio Costanzo says “purchasing advice”, the advertisement has a touch that recalls other times: the Carosello was full of advertisements. And today, it has become one of my particularities”.
Do young people understand this?
“But yes, they are laughing. At least they tell me that I am “brodetto’s age”, a Romagna way of saying that my friends make fun of me”.
You seem to unite Italy, the phone calls to participate in the games come from the North and the South.
“It’s true. And you know something I’m proud of? I was the first in Rai to make it possible to call with a mobile phone as well. Until last year to participate in the games you had to call from a landline, but who has it at home anymore?
After 22 years of recipes (and an Oscar-winning vitello tonnato), wouldn’t it be time for him to get into the kitchen with his own program?
“No, I’m the host. To “It’s still noon!” we also talk about news, current events. Oh my God, they don’t say that in the second part of my life, so early, I don’t start cooking on TV too, but there are people who do it much better than me, when I think I can do my job with the chatter better than I would do while cooking”.
Which part of your studio do you prefer?
“When at first I’m in the woods, because it’s a magical environment, which gives the idea not of a television studio but of a house. And then the swing, which is an emblematic element of the forest, is colorful, magical. And the image of the forest and the fairy tale is what I thought from the beginning”.
Do you swing during the ad?
“And how! I appreciate it a lot, then they scold me because it’s true that it’s fixed, but I have to be careful. Once live Alfio pushed me too hard and I fell… laugh! That’s why I like live coverage, because when a bad thing happens, what breaks the mold, it’s fun. I like “the ring that doesn’t hold” to say it to Montale (Antonella quotes “Limoni”, a poem by Eugenio Montale, ed.). And there were millions of them (Laughs)! With my TV bullshit and my gaffe you could make a whole TV series! “.
She has been living in the wild for a few years now. Do you know the seasonality of fruits and vegetables? What is in this period?
“There are mushrooms, soon chestnuts, and the pumpkin season will soon begin. And then the cabbage for the whole winter because it needs cold”.
“Most importantly, I learned a valuable lesson. Vittorio always tells me, “When you’re nervous, go into the garden and pull the weeds. By removing them, you also remove the bad things in life. It’s therapeutic”. And you know what? Works!”.