Dafne Chanaz

foto giadaTake Heidi, with her pigtails, hills, cows and red cheeks. Try to take a snapshot of her state of mind when she sits in the fields. Then, taking care not to alter this feeling, pass it into the blender of contemporary civilization and expose it to the frantic competitive and globalized atmosphere of metropolises. To finish give her a few tools: a properly equiped kitchen, a good network of farmer friends and sage grandmothers, the foundations of ecological thought and the rigor that adulthood imposes.

Now ask her to get to work. You will be amazed by the lucid ferocity with which she knows how to defend and describe her world, from naivety and the contagious joy with which she continues to indulge in antiquated activities like making bread, empiric ethology or the harvesting of wild herbs. Brought up in the Parco di Veio on a hill which taught her to live, she attended the classical French high school Chateaubriand and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Masters in Local Development from Marseilles. Dafne is also heir to a Tuscan grandmother of simple origins, Miranda, who spent her life in the kitchen with astounding results. The strange contrast between Tuscan and Moroccan cuisine, researched during her years in Marseilles, enriched her gastronomical imagination. After six years as a consultant for local development and international relations for the City of Rome, Dafne followed her intuition thanks to Laura Esquivel(Like Water for Chocolate) and decided to become a priestess of popular cuisine, apprentice witch, ecologist, and conscientious cook.

For 4 years, she studied intensively learning from farmers, cooking non-stop, visiting eco-villages, farms and markets all over Europe and earned a research Ph.D. in Urban planning with a thesis on the theme of the food chain (the umbilical cord between the city and the country, between nature and culture). During her research and writing, she travelled alongside some of the greatest minds in contemporary ecology like Michael Pollan and Giannozzo Pucci. Inaugurating a new area of research (that of the relationship between food and the city), at the same as the first extraordinary book on the topic came out in England written by Carolyn Steel (here she talks about it in a TED Talk video). One evening in February of 2009, she found herself teaching Carolyn the preparation technique for ravioli while conversing animatedly of these topics in the writer’s London home with an improvised filling of tofu, spinach and cardamon. Today Dafne has turned her own house into a laboratory, where she teaches Culture and Politics of Food for the University of Seattle (UW) in Rome, she is the author of numerous articles and two books, with another one in the works. She is one of the best home bakers in Rome, founder and animator of the Natural Sourdough Leavening Confraternity. She is an expert in natural cosmetics and herbal remedies, as well as creator of perfumes. She perennially continues to do research, while divulging her knowledge.