He was 77 and was the VIP nutritionist. He had worked in Merano since 1980. Among the many illustrious names that have passed through his diets, even celebrities such as Maradona, Berlusconi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giulio Andreotti, Naomi Campbell and many others. Here, a memory of our director Maddalena Fossati Dondero
I remember it well, Mr. Henri Chenot, rather: monsieur Chenot, as everyone called him in his health center in Merano. And that time I was there too, because I had to write a report in the form of a diary for an important women's monthly. I was ready for anything, even prepared for the idea of not eating for a reasonably long time. And in fact they were intense days from a food and wine point of view or, better, they were days of intense absence of food. Just to give you an idea, in the evening, when they brought me a very good quinoa, the quantity that was then my dinner corresponded exactly, grain plus grain minus, to the quantity that, in a normal world, would only have been needed to check its cooking. Sure of the goodness of the operation, I met Monsieur Chenot several times to look at my treatment plan. He was a kind man, Catalan by origin, French by adoption who prescribed a lot of lemon water to purify the liver, little food to ease the thoughts, never coffee! There were the European football championships that year, and I remember this surreal scene in which I watched the game with the guests, all quite violent: anchorman at 8pm, well-known film journalist, very famous pair of designers. All different people, yet we watched the game together and talked about… food! And so, dreaming of french fries and hooligan beers, you suffered a lot in front of the opponents' goals and consoled yourself with the usual water and lemon. After the game we went up in the elevator (there was little strength to climb the stairs), still chatting about roasts, lasagna, like a thirsty man in the desert might want a lemonade. And already: lemon again. Then the next day, monsieur would arrive, all graceful, to suggest a nice purifying mud. I do not deny that they were hard days. Very hard. The weight went down, at least mine, but hunger rose and the fantastic broths arrived. On the last day there was the free meal, which was a few grams of pasta. On the other hand, after a week accustomed to little, it was difficult to eat more. In the dining room of the Palace hotel, I remember, there was a client in a bathrobe with a rather exuberant waistline: he had clearly just arrived. I thought that by Chenot's standards (healthier, younger, thinner, this was his slogan) at a guess he should have stayed in Merano at least a good year. While I was enjoying my wholemeal pasta with fresh tomato, this gentleman raised a nice cup of herbal tea like he was making a toast with the best of champagne. Then he placed it on his belly, like a table. It's a scene I've always found hilarious, even looking back on it now. However, in the following days, back home, I was better: yes, my brain was clear and quick, my thoughts fluid.
Rest in peace Monsieur Chenot, you made us go hungry, but you certainly tried to make us all feel better.