Interview with Filippo Polidori, February 2019
When you arrive at the Polidori Farm you immediately understand one thing: this is a place you'll want to come back to. There's something magical about the streets that hug the hills of Montefeltro, the curves that beg to be leaned into and the sunset over the roofs of Urbania.
Born in the Marche region in 1972, Filippo talks about food "with his hands and his heart". He writes and organises events focussed on food and manages the communication of world-famous wineries. A long-time Ducatista, he is also the inventor of The Taste of Joy, an app dedicated to Scrambler and all lovers of motorcycles and street food who want to eat well while travelling.
We followed Filippo as he rode the XDiavel up to his farm, surrounded by the miracles of outdoor life: a generous vegetable garden, a tree house and the golden manes of the two splendid horses – American Quarter Horses - that he is raising together with his wife Giorgia.
But it is in the heart of the "music room" that we understand who the motorcyclist Filippo Polidori is. Here we see the evidence of the unique personality of a man who puts enthusiasm, beauty and energy into everything he does. We find relics of significant relationships, from the jacket of Chef Massimo Bottura to an autographed picture of the rapper Jovanotti and many, many vinyl records from when he was a DJ at Disco 2000 in Sassocorvaro. LPs ranging from rap to waltzes, from INXS to Ornella Vanoni. As if to say that in a lifetime there is room for many different things....
The common thread that unites Filippo's passions and crafts is precisely this word, "jockey". One who loves to ride and feel the mood of the racetrack (whether travelling on a motorcycle, in the countryside on a horseback or even on the dancefloor), and if you add the word "disc" to jockey, he is the person who shifts your party into a higher gear.
Filippo, what did you love as a child and what did you dream of doing?
I was born in a dance hall, built by my father, attached to a restaurant. In all the photographs from when I was young I'm in his arms or in the middle of the dancefloor. My dream was to become a DJ because it was the guy who gave people the chance to have fun and relax and he was the star of the evening. Today I do the job I dreamed of as a child, because when I'm sitting at the table talking about food I'm the DJ who's celebrating it all.
What is a shared table for you?
Cooking is a gesture of love. Everything you create, from a salad, to wine, or even a motorcycle, can be a gesture of love, depending on how you do it. The beauty of food is that it's a daily pleasure. It may not be a coincidence that in history all great decisions were made around a table.
Tell us about the Rimini Street Food project.
In 2011 it occurred to me that street food should be celebrated as a sector of excellence, when no one had yet understood its potential. I took several great chefs, had them take off their kitchen outfits and put on a leather jacket, and then I took them on a motorcycle ride to talk about food. They had a blast! Motorcycles make you feel like a kid again.
What is the essential feature that a bike has to have to please you?
If today I still have a first edition Monster in the garage it's because it's a bike with a timeless appeal. So I would say that above all it should be appealing.
And the horses?
The Quarter Horse is a breed that was born to work so they're always calm, they don't get too excited and react only when commanded. They're very powerful but I just take them out riding. Exactly like with the motorcycle: maybe I don't make the most of all the power, but knowing that I could if I wanted is a real adrenaline booster. And they both offer great reliability.
In a word, by bringing together different worlds – award-winning chefs and street life, motorcycles and horses – what you're looking for is harmony?
Exactly. Harmony is the soundtrack of life. It's feeling good with others, it's sociability. In fact, I ride when I'm calm, not to vent. Harmony also means choosing beauty, every day. I get up and try to make myself happy; if I like a shirt I wear it even if others don't like it. I go out and I feel different, and I feel happy.
What does the word "authenticity" mean to you?
"Authenticity" means recognising yourself and being recognised. Not being confused with someone else. And even small defects are okay, they help in making you unique. I've always had an incredible sense of smell, I smell vinyl, books, the amp that takes me back to Disco 2000 when it heats up. The smell of a warm engine in a garage...if I smell it I say: "There's a Ducati here". You can immediately recognise a Ducati when it passes by: from the smell, the sound of its engine. And the bike also absorbs the energy of those who generate it.
Excellence and Italian character: is it a combination that works?
Of course it works. We are the best and most beautiful country in the world, history proves it. All those born in Italy have a debt to humanity. They have to give something back, to share. Art, beauty, food, design. If I show you a Ducati I can say, "This is Italy". If I offer you a Sassicaia wine you understand that this is Italy. And our landscapes? They are included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites: just consider Tuscany, the Langhe. And in such places the "starchitect" is the farmer. Farmers are the Michelangelos of the Italian landscape.
Who are your teachers?
My family taught me to stay with my feet on the ground. My grandfather always used to tell me, "Careful Filippo, freaks are for the circus. If you've behaved well there will always be someone who will give you a hand". Then I was lucky enough to meet the inventor of food criticism, Luigi Veronelli, with whom I spent the most intense five years of my life. I learned about the magic that is in food from him, I learned to respect it.