Interview with Niccolò Manetti – Giusto Manetti Battiloro

Giusto Manetti Battiloro is one of the leading suppliers of with its range of Gold and Silver Food products and the Beauty Gold line.

We have asked Niccolò Manetti to tell the story of his family and his company that has developed over a hundred years.

Can you tell us, in short, the story of the company Manetti Battiloro and its founders?

A company, a passion, a family.

During the Renaissance of Tuscany with the Medici, Florence was in a great political-economic ferment and in full artistic and cultural renewal. Every Florentine family was involved, including the Manetti family.
Our family, initially, specialized in the goldsmith and decoration sector. The family has carried on the activity of Battiloro proper since 1600. Throughout history, many members of the Manetti family have received fame and honors for their artistic and entrepreneurial qualities. For example, Matteo Manetti was named Goldsmith of Santa Maria del Fiore after having restored the ball of the cathedral in 1602.
Fifteen generations produced the true golden and true gold leaf of the best quality in Florence, following ancient methods and traditions, but using the most advanced structures and technologies in the world. Research and development, tradition and work ethic are the secrets of the success of our brand, which was founded in 1820 by Luigi Manetti. Giusto and Adolfo Manetti then contributed to modernizing and internationalizing production, giving an industrial character to the activity. What was once born as a small shop, today our company is among the first to export the real “Made in Italy” gold leaf all over the world and is a market leader, collaborating with leading architects, gilders, restorers, museums, religious institutions and recently also with chefs and cosmetic companies. From Paris to Hong Kong, crossing New York, London and Moscow, the gold Manetti shines on the most important monuments of the world, both ancient and modern.

Manetti and the gold and silver leaf used in art and architecture. What are the works and achievements you are most proud of?

The restoration and gilding in the leaf has been used for some of the most important monuments in the world:

  • Golden Ball of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence – Italy
  • Catherine Palace in Tsarkoye Selo – Saint Petersburg – Russia
  • Operà Garnier – Paris – France
  • Iowa State Capitol – Des Moines – United States of America
  • New York Life Insurance Building – New York – United States of America
  • La Galerie des Glaces – Versailles – France
  • Denver Union Station – Washington DC – United States of America
  • Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
  • Prometheus statue at the Rockefeller Center – New York – United States of America
  • Church of the Holy Sepulcher – Jerusalem – Israel
  • Prada Foundation – Milan – Italy

Manetti has been a leader in its market for 15 generations: what are the secrets of your success?

Investing in the company and in the young people who work for the company; aim at new technologies and quality control processes, always making them better and more avant-garde; maximize attention to the needs of customers.

What technological and productive developments have you achieved in the last century?

One of the reasons we are leaders is because we do not disclose our technological secrets.

Edible gold and silver: how did you come up with the idea of ​​making it and how did you solve the production difficulties and the strict certification rules before marketing the product?

The idea was born from the desire to reinterpret, with a contemporary format, the millennial tradition of decorating food with gold. This traditional custom comes from ancient countries such as China, Japan, India and Egypt and arrived in Europe in the mid-1500s with Venetian patrons.
We have solved the production difficulties by creating an ad hoc line so as to ensure compliance with all current European and international standards on food production. The control bodies and in particular the ASL have overseen the correct application of the rules and methods of food production from the design phase up to the implementation of the line with periodic and continuous visits and monitoring.

Which chefs, in Italy and in the world, use edible gold and silver for their signature dishes? What is the most unusual dish that you have made with your edible gold or silver?

The most famous application of edible gold in Italy was that of Gualtiero Marchesi with his Risotto in gold leaf and saffron. This dish brought to the fore-front the use of edible gold in the decoration of signature dishes. Our testimonials of the product are Vito Mollica, Executive Chef of the Il Palagio Restaurant at the Four Season in Florence, and Marco Stabile, Chef of the Michelin-starred Restaurant Ora D’Aria in Florence. Also Ernst Knam, one of the judges of the talent show Bake Off Italy – Dolci in Forno, has favored the Manetti gold leaf for some creations made during the program, such as the Torta Operà. However, for years now, many internationally renowned chefs, such as the prestigious French Joël Robuchon or “the goldsmith of cheese” Hansi Baumgartner, use edible gold and silver as a decorative element for innovative creations, making the food refined and elegant. Some recipes in which edible gold is used, combined with other highly selected products or valuable decorations, are considered among the most expensive in the world. Among these we find a series of sweets such as, for example, the Golden Phoenix cupcake in Bloomsbury (Dubai Mall), the Black Diamond ice cream cup and the Frozen Haute Chocolate served at the Serendipity 3 in New York. Among the savory recipes, we find the Royal Pizza and the Glamburger. There is no shortage of luxury drinks such as the “Bulgari oro,” served in a cup garnished with gold leaf food, and the “Luxury,” served adorned with pure gold leaf. Finally, there are liqueurs and spirits in bottles that also use edible gold, such as the Goldwasser 22 kt Polish liqueur and the Smirnoff Gold vodka.

Can you think of an event or anniversary in which your edible gold was used in a purely scenographic way (a wedding, an inauguration, an event, etc.)?

The gold leaf and the silver leaf products by Manetti are used by many master confectioners for the fashioning of beautiful wedding cakes with a great scenographic effect, such as the cakes of Erika Dawn Elianté
The edible gold Manetti leaves have been used as a decorative element of particular elegance in numerous weddings all over the world: edible gold, specifically, for the decoration of desserts and tasty dishes. Additionally, gold is also used for cosmetics, and used as an ornament for particular hairstyles and glamor make-up. Unfortunately, customer names and images taken on such occasions are strictly confidential information.
Regarding, however, public events and inaugurations we can safely include the following:
the important international congress of high pastries, World Pastry Stars 2016, in which the collective PASS121 prepared sweets for the event with the edible 23 kt gold crumbs; the famous talent show “Bake Off Italy” – Sweets in the oven where some recipes have been decorated with Manetti gold leaf; the presentation and launch in 2015 at the Milan EXPO of the innovative line of edible gold products with flavor; Gold Chef, during which Michelin-starred chef Marco Stabile created three exclusive dishes for the event; the evening “Alice meets the French Riviera” promoted by the magazine Monaco Madame during the Monaco Yacht Show 2015, in which we prepared a cooking show of haute cuisine and edible gold with flavor together with Chef Stabile; and the 2011 Taste of Florence, in which the company participated by dedicating a part of the stand to the tasting to present the complete line of edible gold and silver.

What does the Manetti Battiloro brand represent today in Italy and in the world?

Our brand is world leader first of all for the quality of the gold leaf and also because it guarantees high quality of service and maximum attention to the customer. Suffice it to say that our leaf is universally known as Manetti gold leaf, that of our competitors is instead identified by origin.

What is the definition of ‘luxury’ for Niccolò Manetti?

In my opinion, luxury is the possibility of realizing a precious desire. Therefore, it can also be a democratic luxury, as long as it is exclusive.

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