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Martino da Como

Martino da Como

Italian culinary expert
Martino da Como
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Italian culinary expert
A.K.A. Maestro Martino, Martino Rossi, Martino de Rossi
Was Writer Chef
From Switzerland Italy
Type Food and Drinks Literature
Gender male
Birth 1430, Torre, Ticino, Switzerland
Death 1500 (aged 70 years)
The details


Martino de Rossi (or Martino de Rubeis, called Maestro Martino or Martino of Como), was an Italian 15th-century culinary expert who was unequalled in his field at the time and could be considered the Western world's first celebrity chef. He made his career in Italy and was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain ("camerlengo"), the Patriarch of Aquileia. Martino was applauded by his peers, earning him the epitaph of the prince of cooks. His book Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking) (c. 1465) is considered a landmark in Italian gastronomic literature and a historical record of the transition from medieval to renaissance cuisine.


Maestro Martino was born around 1430 in Torre, a village in the Blenio Valley, then in the Duchy of Milan, today in Canton Ticino, Switzerland. His early career probably began in northern Italy, as he is referred to variously as both Martino di Como and Martino di Milano, but it seems likely that he spent some time in Naples as many of his recipes show the influence of Spanish cuisine and with the Catalan manuscript Libre de Sent Soví, Naples having come under lasting Catalan influence after its conquest by Alfonso V of Aragon in 1442.

Between 1460 and 1470 he made his way to Rome in order to cook for Ludovico Trevisan, Cardinal Patriarch of Aquileia, who made a name out of lavish banquets and opulent receptions. Later, his services passed on to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, a Milanese condottiere (adventurer) and eventually he ended up at the Vatican.

Little more is known about Martino but he was described by his friend Bartolomeo Sacchi (known as Platina) as "Prince of cooks from whom I learned all about cooking" in De honesta voluptate et valetudine (On Honest Pleasure and Good Health) (1474). Platina openly acknowledges in his book that most of his recipes came from Martino whom he compared to a Greek philosopher in his ability to improvise on a culinary theme.

English translations

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