DINING WITH GANGSTERS
It’s a TV series of very special dinners, the kind you usually only see in the movies. And around the table? Characters from the underworld, gangsters with a criminal record as long as your arm. Men you only meet if you’re a policeman, a judge or a lawyer or maybe even a journalist and whose names figure regularly in the columns of the gutter press.
But in the serial “Dinners with Gangsters” you will find no controlled interviews, no police interrogations, and even less court hearings which would only give you a glimpse of the personality and story of these men apart but instead intimate evenings conducive to easy speech and free-flowing confessions. Private dinners during the course of which tongues begin to wag, masks fall and, in a tone of complicity, stories are mingled with anecdotes and revelations distilled in the flowery language of the gangsters. Along with good recipes dear to the hearts of these gentlemen is the chance to discover these crooks’ cooking. While enjoying their dishes they lower their guard and open the doors to their world. These men, silent by profession but truculent storytellers in private, recount, glass in hand, their stories and those of their world, decrypting the habits and customs, explaining their codes and their traditions, detailing their criminal specialities, talking of hold-ups, betting, vendettas, trafficking, heavy arms and easy women, even confessing their doubts and a few regrets.
“Dining with Gangsters” is an international, gastronomical tour, in six destinations, each one taking place in one of the great capitals of crime, a descent into the back streets far from the tourist tracks and guide book addresses, even the most confidential ones.
Each dinner gives you the chance to discover, through various members, a specific criminal world: from thugs, dressed in suits, in London’s East End to aging Corsican godfathers, via the much-feared Balkan gangsters. Each world reveals the story of the society they belong to.
In each 52 minute episode Jerome Pierrat takes you by the hand and introduces you to characters as surprising as they are unsettling, ominous. For a real life whodunit.
Our hero knows his subject intimately, by Dining with Gangsters in Marseille, Moscow, London, Belgrade and Naples he is continuing his work as a journalist specialized in organized crime.
For over fifteen years Jerome Pierrat has studied, observed and encountered the ‘baddies’ of France and of elsewhere. With his assignments from all over Europe but also in Japan, in the ex-USSR, in South America as well as Africa he has accumulated an ‘encyclopedia’ knowledge of the criminal organizations, bands, gangs and cartels that our planet accommodates. Above all he has built up an address book that would be the envy Interpol….From Corsican godfathers to their colleagues in the ex-USSR, from the gangs of Belgrade to the United Kingdom…….
Dining with Corsican godfathers…..
In the French world of organized crime Corsican thugs have a special place, they quite simply tower above all the other actors on the criminal stage. For more than a century the Corsican ‘mafia’ has reigned over the Mob and their capital is called Marseille.
In a Corsican restaurant, hidden in a narrow street that runs along the old port four of its godfathers are sitting around a table with Jerome Pierrat.
Jo Signoli, 78, but looking ten years younger, is one of the patrons of the French connection, sentenced, among other things, to 20 years in prison in 1974. This Marseille Corsican, born and brought up in the Panier area of Marseille where the Corsican community live and which is also the oldest area of the city, is considered by his peers as the judge of peace of the Marseille underworld.
Andre Guerini, called Dede, 45, recidivist robber of banks and armoured vans.
One of the best craftsmen of his speciality.
Laurent Fiocconi, called Charlot, 75, another old boy of the French connection, returned to his Corsican village Pietralba in 2000 when he was released from the high-security American penitentiary of Terre Haute in Indiana. Sentenced by a Boston court to 45 years in prison for his role in the French connection, he escaped four years later from the Atlanta penitentiary to Colombia where he became one of the associates of Pablo Escobar, the boss of the Medellin Cartel. Before being finally arrested in 1989 in Rio on his three-mast ship and sent to do his time in the States. Since his return to France, where he’s done a few stints in prison, the police is keeping a close eye on him……
Jacques Cassandri, called Baldy, 68, owner of discotheques and restaurants in Marseille and Corsica, is the brain of the legendary French ‘coup’: the break-in of the Societe Generale bank in Nice in 1977. A break-in made during one weekend after the thugs had been digging a tunnel for two months between the sewers of the town and the bank’s safes.
On the menu this evening: the gastronomical specialities of the villages of tonight’s guests, of course, and the traditional songs of their island that they sing for us.
But especially the whole criminal saga of the Corsican ‘milieu’, specialized in games – of the casinos – racketing, night clubs, drug trafficking and clan rivalries…….