An Italian chef learned the hard way that you shouldn’t mess with the classics—no matter how hungry your diners may be.
Simone Salvini, a chef based in Milan and Bologna who has his own TV show, was invited to prepare a meal at the Antoniano soup kitchen, which is run by monks, in Bologna.
Salvini, whose specialty is plant-based cuisine, was asked to make a healthier version of one of the city’s most famous dishes-- tagliatelle al ragu (wide noodles with meat sauce).
But according to The Local, the health-conscious menu wasn’t appreciated by some of the homeless patrons.
“Some told me that they need to eat meat, and would return to the streets [if they were fed vegan food],” the chef told Bologna’s Corriere della Sera.
“My staff and I are trying to cook, as best as we can, a range of healthy, organic food and vegetables.”
Salvini, who is providing his services gratis every Wednesday at lunchtime, started working at the soup kitchen last week. Though Italian cuisine varies regionally, Bologna—in the north—is known for its heavier dishes including creamy sauces, aged cheeses, and, of course, cured meats.
Alessandro Caspoli, a monk who manages the center reportedly played down the negative reaction but did tell the paper that meat was back on the kitchen’s menu for the rest of the week.
Despite the backlash over his vegan meal, Salvini says he hasn’t lost hope.
“I welcome the criticism. But not everyone complained last week, some guests shook my hand. It was very satisfying.”
Salvini is working with Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura for a special dinner catering to both recent refugees and the homeless on May 9. The menu reportedly includes meatless versions of Italian classics like vegetarian meatballs and bean sausages.