In this episode, Barry and Ben visit Italy to learn all about how rice is grown there. Along the way, they discover how breeding new varieties is helping growers face the challenges of climate change. But how will what they learn translate into the dishes they create in the studio?
Behind the scenes
The Sorted team drove out to Società Agricola Spina, a family-owned rice producer in the Lombardy in northern Italy. There, they met Melissa Malaspina, third-generation rice producer and co-head of the company, and spoke to her about how consumer demands and new technologies have been changing their daily work, and which sustainability measures they incorporate in their rice production. Next, they spoke with Michela Martinotti, breeder at Lugano Leonardo, who introduced them to the world of rice seed breeding and the new varieties that are helping farmers meet the challenges of climate change on their farms. Back in the kitchen, Mike and Ben used rice straight from Melissa’s farm to cook the best dish to highlight this classic Italian produce.
Behind The Scenes Of "Beat The Chef"
Melissa is a third-generation farmer from Italy. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in linguistic sciences from Cattolica University in Milan and a 4-year experience as employee, she decided to join the family farm in 2015. Moving from the office to the countryside, today Melissa manages 270 hectares cultivated with rice, corn and soybeans in the province of Pavia, together with her dad, uncle and cousin. Despite the fact that her course of study took place in a completely different kind of field, Melissa now feels that she has chosen the best job in the world. Melissa is a strong believer that farming is one of the most complex professions worldwide, which requires not only physical labor but specific skills in agronomy, chemistry, mechanics, and computer science. Today's greatest challenge is to be able to produce healthy food in a sustainable way for an ever-increasing world population.
Michela studied Agricultural Sciences and Technologies at the University of Milan, followed by a post-graduate course in Nutrition & Wellness in the Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences at the university. She currently works for the Lugano Leonardo Slr Rice Seed Company in Tortona, Italy, at its Applied Research and Development Facility. There, Michela helps to carry out genetic improvement activities through classic breeding programs and varietal selection for agronomic and nutritional characteristics, aimed at the breeding of functional rice.