Saffron 3 cooks, the history of red gold in Italy – Italian Cuisine

It is the sachet par excellence of our cuisine, designed in 1935 by a brand that continues to enhance the qualities of saffron. With intuitions, enter the Italian costume

The history of saffron passes through Milan. And for his symbolic monument, the Duomo. There golden powder began to be used to give flavor and color to dishes many centuries ago. Already in 1450 Martino de Rossi, the famous chef of the Sforza, served many recipes enriched with saffron at the table of the noble Milanese because it made them more appetizing and digestible, not to mention the beautiful intense yellow color and the intoxicating scent that gave joy to the guests. And then there is the legend: that of Valerio from ProfondovalleFlemish painter who used dust to color the stained glass windows of the Cathedral in 1500. During his daughter's wedding, the chef at the banquet clumsily hit a bag containing saffron which, falling into the rice pot, magically colored the dish yellow, thus giving rise to the Milanese risotto.

The image is of an English painter

Five abundant centuries later, we are still talking about saffron which is clearly identified with the risotto par excellence, what Gualtiero Marchesi transformed into a timeless signature dish such as Rice, gold and saffron. And this is mainly due to a Milanese industry (obviously): Saffron 3 Chefs celebrating the 85th year of activity. In fact, the entrepreneur Gianni Mangini had already launched himself on the market two years earlier, but the very first sachets carried only his name and that of the grocer who sold it to the retailer. Only in 1935, thanks to the contribution of an English painter, was the graphic image studied with the chefs who, smiling in a row one behind the other, exhibit delicious dishes. The great adventure started on June 12th.

Saffron Three Cooks
Saffron Three Cooks

The sachet makes the difference

The product immediately differs from its competitors for its high quality, not by chance on the packaging of the time was the wording "guaranteed pure", in reference to the Royal Decree of 1936, which identifies as saffron only the apical part of the stylus, with the stigmas of the Crocus Sativus Linnaeus. In addition, it had to be sold in sealed envelopes bearing the indication of the Decree, that of the net weight, the name and headquarters of the preparatory company. But beyond the value of the product, the first great intuition was to create a sachet packaging capable of preserving over time all the organoleptic characteristics.


The success of Zafferano 3 Cuochi is also due to promotional and exhibition materials which over the years have become true collectibles, iconic and highly sought after. Just remember the wooden container for the saffron sachets in the shape of a pickup truck (1948), the various editions of metal boxes to expose the envelopes in the grocery stores at the end of the 50s and, again, the wooden houses to amaze the customer. What does not change is the special parchment which gently slips the powder out of the package. Not even a grain is wasted, and we would miss it: for a kilogram of dried saffron 150 thousand flowers and 500 hours of work are needed in total manual skill while with 20 flowers and 60 pistils you get a packet of Saffron 3 Chefs of 0.15 grams.

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