February 7, 2022 - By Rosie Howe
Once a food and wine quality auditor, now a renowned Covid-19 superstar…but we will get to that later! Michele Crippa has had many endeavours throughout his life from an auditor to a teacher to a gastronomer, to hear all about his interesting journey, carry on reading!
Talking to Marco and Erica on the show Michele Crippa told them about how his interest in food and the most famous chefs stemmed from when he was a young boy, while others were interested in the best football player or most famous singer, he looked up to the best chefs- Gualtiero Marchesi being one of these who Crippa was later given the opportunity to teach in Marchesi’s culinary school. After high school, Crippa attended the University of Gastronomic Sciences where he now teaches students just like himself; while training to become a wine and food quality auditor he spent years visiting farms and producers of milk, cheese, olive oil and coffee in its purest form and this is where he developed his superb food palate.
Crippa then became a qualified food critic and spent years visiting restaurants to critique the food…I know what you’re thinking and no he didn’t get all these meals for free! He said “to be a food critic, you must be objective and experience the whole thing”, this includes paying for what he had. When ‘undercover’ Crippa wouldn’t go alone to restaurants as it gives away your position, so taking 2-3 friends is a must, it also meant he was able to try more meals than just his own- which is always a positive!
Back to Michele teaching in the University of Gastronomic Sciences- he explains the sensory lab, which is where he teaches aspiring chefs or even people wanting to broaden their taste palette. The lab consists of many rooms which essentially have the ability to change the light colour and brightness and this allows the students to evaluate the deep emotions, aromas, looks and tastes of foods. The lab is very controlled and has purifiers to eliminate other smells which could affect the students perception on what they are smelling.
“My skin smells of rotten vegetables”
March 17th 2020 is where his career took a turn, he woke up and went to his kitchen to have his breakfast and morning coffee at precisely 9:40, sitting at his kitchen table he started to drink his coffee and realised it tasted of nothing, only boiled water. He has contracted Covid-19! This was during Italy’s first wave of covid, which meant there wasn’t too much research into the short-term and long lasting effects it had on people; he then isolated at home with his parents so he could look after them while being ill himself, he was cooking meals whilst being unable to smell or taste, which he was dependent on…I wonder what they tasted like?
When speaking on Marco and Erica #TALKSHOW Michele opened up about how he developed a different problem after recovering from Covid-19 itself. He goes on to say how he developed anosmia (loss of smell) and ageusia (loss of taste).
For someone who works in the food industry this was devastating, he was going to be affected in every aspect of his life- personally and professionally. How was he going to critique food when he couldn’t taste or smell? It meant he was unable to continue his career but it affected his personal life too, “people don’t understand what it’s like, my own skin smells like rotten vegetables and the morning smells like ashtrays”, coming from Michele himself it is clear that this long-lasting symptom of Covid is harder than it is let on and is something he struggles with.
Imagine smelling rotten, even after a shower- I wouldn’t be able to cope with it!
After this Crippa decided to help others like himself and regain the use of his nose, he developed a training course to do exactly this.
Training Course and Sensory Boxes
After a few months of trialling and testing, Michele has put together a training course for other individuals like himself who wanted to regain their sense of smell, it includes a 4 hour course on the biology and physiology of the senses and how to improve them. After this has been completed, they move on to the sensory box which is essentially a box which contains 20 small bottles which each holds a different smell/ aroma, for example one may contain lavender, rose or mushroom; it was created based on the population of Italy so each scent will be customised to them. Each scent also comes with a storytelling which relaxes them and helps them recall what it is. The individual taking part in the course should use these daily to help regain their smell. To effectively use these the individual should close their eyes and breathe in, by doing this they should start to recall which scent it is; Crippa also stated that the training videos are being translated into English and sensory boxes are being made for each country, the German sensory box may contain mustard or the English box tea…you get the gist. He is now starting to help individuals nationally who struggled like him.
It has been questioned if this is a business move, Michele shut this down and responded by saying that it definitely isn’t a business move and people can easily join in with the course by using household items they own, therefore they wouldn’t even need the sensory box.
After reading this you should now understand that Michele Crippa is doing his part to help rebuild after the effect Covid-19 has had on the world, it forced him to go down a different career path and has done the same to many others. What effect has covid had on your life? To hear what Michele has to say himself and find some great advice if you’re suffering from a lost sense of smell and taste due to Covid-19, head right away to watch the full interview which is now streaming on Britalians TV…Some may say it is more entertaining than reading what I have to say!