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What’s cooking in the Gucci kitchen

Luxury & Lifestyle 03-06-2020

Head Chef at Gucci Osteria, Karime Lopez speaks to AWM about cooking up a diversity of tastes in the melting pot of culture, Florence.

The lockdown has sent the jet-setting world into a total standstill, leaving us gazing longingly at the glossy pages of turquoise blue shores, glamorous rooftop bars, or for yours truly, the Michelin Star Gucci Osteria in the architectural gem of Florence.

A celebration of childhood friendship, shared passion for food and a joint creative flair saw Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri and Michelin Star chef Massimo Bottura open the doors of Gucci Osteria in 2018.  Housed within the rich doors of Gucci Garden, a galleria of archives and of course a boutique in Piazza della Signoria in Florence, this creative melting pot featured the most exquisite and exclusive Gucci pieces unavailable elsewhere in in world. 

The restaurant encompasses Florentine history and modern flair with a deep, vibrant green palette, leaf motif floorboards and teal velvet banquettes. It was the sublime classic menu with a quirky twist including “Purple Corn Tostada,” or a “Charleys Sandwich” ice cream dessert that earned them a priceless Michelin Star.

Whilst we eagerly await the release from confinement, Massimo Bottura’s right-hand woman and and chef de cuisine, Karime Lopez serve us a tantalizing taster.  Born in Mexico with culinary training in Spain, Lopez’s glittering career has taken her to some of the most envious and unparalleled Michelin temples from Noma in Copenhagen, to Ryugin in Tokyo.  She tells us more on her culinary international journey and native Mexican influences on this stunning menu.

AWM: What or who inspired you to become a chef?

Karime: I grew up in a family that loved to cook. My father’s family were in the restaurant world so I experienced that atmosphere and a passion for food from a young age. When I finished high school however, I was really interested in art, therefore moved to Paris to start this journey. In my time there I was taken by the beautiful pastries and amazing restaurants, it made me realise my calling for the culinary arts. In some ways I went full circle!

AWM: What is the story and inspiration behind Gucci Osteria?

 Karime: We are located in a beautiful square in the heart of Florence called Piazza della Signoria. Florence used to be a melting pot of cultures, and this is what we wanted to share with our guests travelling to us…the stories behind the menu and the team by the hand of the beautiful designs of Alessandro Michele.

AWM: What would you say are the restaurant’s signature dishes?

Karime: We have the tostada, inspired on my Mexican heritage, the tortellini that represents the authentic handcrafted pasta in Italy, and the Charley Marley, a small homage to Massimo’s son. These dishes truly express the essence of Gucci Osteria and what we want to share with our guests.

AWM: What is your favourite dish on the menu?

Karime: It depends on the day as well as the season! Italy has amazing quality products and we follow what we find per season to influence the dishes. I change my favourite depending on my appetite.

AWM: How do your personal preferences influence the menu?

Karime: I believe each chef always reflects their preferences on the menu. I love fresh herbs, colours and fruits, which you’ll see are key on the menu. You will also experience my Latin heritage, a perfect partnership with Italian products.

AWM: What would you do if you weren’t a chef?

Karime: I think I would be doing something creative…Over the last two years I have become very interested in nutrition so maybe (why not!) a nutritionist.

AWM: With the current lockdown many chefs have embraced social media to showcase their skills and recipes, have you also followed the same path?

Karime: I have published three videos to share on Gucci Osteria’s Instagram page – they concentrate on simple recipes to recreate at home with ingredients in your pantry. I didn’t want to show off my skills. My purpose was to share something different that someone with minimal or no cooking skills can do at home and have fun with. I am also quite a shy person, so I don’t see myself embracing Instagram all the time!

AWM: What do you feel is in store for Gucci Osteria once the doors finally reopen?

Karime: I think we all will be extremely happy, full of new ideas and energy. There will be exciting changes on the menu since we will be in a fresh new season full of fruits and fresh herbs. We will surely be aware of the post-covid guidelines that we will have to adapt to, of course, without affecting the inspiring spirit of our restaurant.

 Interview by Anuja Gaur

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