Maestro Martino can be defined as the Leonardo Da Vinci of cooks, which is not an excessive comparison if we consider that Platina - originally named Bartolomeo Sacchi, a great humanist philosopher during the Renaissance, who was appointed in 1478 by Pope Sixtus IV as first prefect of The Vatican library - described Maestro Martino in his own culinary book De honesta voluptade et valetudine as : "Prince of cooks from whom I learned all about cooking".
Details about his life are scarce; his history had been forgotten during centuries and remained unknown for such a long time, that we had to wait until the first half of the XXth century to get information about him, when his cookbook Libro de Arte Coquinaria was found in America, nowadays, it is preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
The manuscript, signed by Maestro Martino, is dedicated to Cardinal Trevisan, originally named Ludovico Scarampi Mezzarota.
Instead, in Italy, it was only in the second half of the 70's that culinary students and food historians started to focus their attention on the historical figure of Maestro Martino, when two other copies of Libro de Arte Coquinaria were found out. The first copy is nowadays preserved at the Vatican Library and the second one at Riva del Garda Library.
It was the second copy - dedicated to the aristocrat Gian Giacomo Trivulzio - that explains part of Maestro Martino history.
Martino de Rossi, also known as Martino of Como, was born in the Blenio valley, in the second or third decade of the XVth century. At that time, the territories of the Blenio valley - a minor valley that from Bellinzona was leading, through the Lucomagno Pass, to the german cantons - belonged to the Duchy of Milan, under the Visconti Lordship and then Sforza Lordship. These roads were the major ones for trade and communication between North and South Europe.
It is very likely that, once Martino acquired knowledge in culinary arts in his native Blenio valley, he moved to Milan, seeking his fortune.
Indeed, in 1457, he moved to the Duke court, in order to cook for Francesco Sforza, where he refined his taste, his cooking culture and techniques by trying out recipes and improvising new dishes.
We found traces of Maestro Martino in 1462, in Rome, at the Papal Court, where he served as cook to Cardinal Trevisan, nicknamed "Cardinal Lucullo ", who made a name for his lavish banquets.
Martino acquired fame by entering the service of the Vatican kitchen, where he was considered a culinary expert, unequalled in his field, for his creativity and for the fact that, unlike most of his colleagues, he didn't like to serve already known dishes, but preferred to improvise new ones or to re-elaborate traditional recipes with a modern taste and inspiration.
During his time in Rome, Maestro Martino had the opportunity to meet Platina - an other influential historical figure from Lombardy - a meeting that will change the history of modern cooking.
From their friendship and mutual exchanges, was published De honesta voluptade et valetudine, a culinary book written by Platina and dated 1468, in which the author said : “Which cook or mortal god could compete with my friend Martino of Como, from whom I learned all of what is written here?”
And actually, Bartolomeo Sacchi's debt towards Maestro Martino is anything but derisory, if we consider that from volume VI to X of Platina's cookbook - volumes entirely dedicated to recipes - 240 dishes out of the 250 mentionned inside, were created by Maestro Martino who, in those days - just to remind it - had already written Libro de Arte Coquinaria (1450- 1467).
Since about 1470, Maestro Martino returned to his native land, in Milan, where he served as cook to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, a complex and controversial individual at the Sforza court, between conflicts and betrayals, between Naples and French kingdoms. These complex historical transitions also appear in the recipe book of Maestro Martino, that often presents the dishes with indications such as "alla catalana" or "alla siciliana", testifying the political past of Trivulzio.
Maestro Martino ended here his carreer, leaving his mark in the italian Renaissance history. Father of italian Author's Cuisine, Maestro Martino represents the archetype of great Chef of the modern era.