At the table on the beach

    30 years of the international food and wine competition on the ‘noble sands’ of Forte dei Marmi told in a book that was presented at the Capannina di Franceschi.

    For more than thirty years, Gianni Mercatali has opened his office in Versilia in July and August, under the legendary Silvio bathroom curtain, where he continues his communication activity at a lighter pace, perhaps, but not for rest. He could not otherwise manage an appointment like A table on the beach that he has been organizing on the ‘noble sands’ of Forte dei Marmi since 1993. The ingredients? Cuisine and ‘greedy’ worldliness. At the time that adventure began, Gianni had two special friendships behind him with whom he shared a passion for food, the one with Gino Paoli and the one with Ugo Tognazzi, creator of Man in the kitchen, an event that in some ways inspired A table on the beach. That sense of jokey friendship but governed by good taste and lively pleasure for shared food were the foundations of this food and wine competition that has become a fixed appointment in August, which took place between the Roma di Levante bath and La Capannina di Franceschi thanks to the hospitality of Carla and Gherardo Guidi.

    A story that celebrates its first 30 years, retraced by a book published by Gruppo Editoriale, entitled A tavola sulla spiaggia. The recipes of great chefs and more … on sale in the best bookstores in Italy and online at, and which was presented on Sunday 26 June 2022 in Capannina.

    The book opens with an affectionate memory of Carlo Conti, mindful of having presented the first edition at the beginning of his career when, together with Giorgio Panariello, the legendary Vernice Fresca television program was shooting at the Bussola which launched them in the showbiz.

    Gian Marco Tognazzi, on the other hand, tells of his father Ugo’s passion for cooking – “a cook on loan to the cinema” – and how this was the glue of proven friendships, such as the one with Gianni Mercatali, and the engine of passions shared today by himself. and his brothers Ricky and Maria Sole.

    Still on the subject of Ugo Tognazzi, Davide Paolini – who started writing about food and wine in the monthly magazine directed by Tognazzi himself Nuova Cucina – outlines his profile as a refined performer and connoisseur of haute cuisine, with a wealth of details and unpublished anecdotes.

    Gherardo Guidi, recalling the first time he listened to the idea of ​​what would become a thirty-year gastronomic competition within a year, recalls the image that appeared to him then: “Wicker baskets, with porcelain equipment and cutlery silver that I had seen, under the tents, at the beginning of the 60s, in my first forays to the sea “.

    And he was right, given that the main reason why A Tavola sulla Spiaggia was born was to pay homage to the typical Versilia tradition of bringing food with you and having lunch on the beach at a time when kitchens were not available at the establishments. bathing.

    A large chapter of the book is dedicated to the beach recipes of great chefs: from Gianfranco Vissani’s tomatoes, baby octopus and crunchy cinnamon to buffalo stracciatella with strawberry grape sorbet by Davide Oldani, from smoked bonito with ‘nduja by Gennaro Esposito to fillet Ricciola di Riccardo Monco… A total of 26 exclusive recipes, each of which has been paired with a great wine.

    And finally, last but not least, the photos from the historical archive of At the table on the beach which, from the first to the last page, tell of this adventure born almost for fun which, after thirty years, is still an annual Augustan ritual of friendship, cuisine and conviviality shared between VIPs, starred chefs, vignerons, famous journalists and, of course, the bathers of Versilia. Meanwhile, the next edition is scheduled for Thursday 4 August with the award ceremony the following day, again in the Capannina.

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