Header: Massimo Bottura at Gucci Osteria and Caesar salad in bloom
Gucci Osteria isn't only Massimo Bottura's latest opening in Florence, Italy, but also the result of a romance born in the 50 Best community. Find out how the restaurant's inventive menu came to be and discover the unique features of the Italian chef's new venture.
Behind Massimo Bottura’s new restaurant, Gucci Osteria, is a love story that began in one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Ana Karime Lopez Kondo met Takahiko Kondo in 2015 at Virgilio Martínez’s restaurant Central in Lima, where she headed the R&D department, while Kondo – at the time already a 10-year veteran of Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy – was doing a stage alongside the acclaimed Peruvian chef.
Now, a year after moving to Italy and marrying Kondo in January 2017, the Mexican cook – whose CV includes working at René Redzepi’s Noma and Enrique Olvera’s Pujol – has become executive chef of Gucci Osteria in Florence under Bottura. She celebrated the couple’s first wedding anniversary by introducing a small homage to the menu of the new restaurant: the Taka bun, stuffed with pork belly, refers to this 50 Best love story.
Gucci Osteria opened last week in Florence’s historical Palazzo della Mercanzia as part of the new Gucci Garden, a creative space comprising exhibitions, a boutique and even a small cinema. Bottura’s new venture focuses on the chef’s travels and its menu, tested and developed by Lopez Kondo, incorporates Italian classics alongside high-end interpretations of dishes from all over the world, from burgers and hot dogs to Peruvian tostadas.
Gucci Osteria's dining room
“Travelling the world, our kitchen interacts with everything we see, hear and taste,” says Bottura. “With eyes wide open, we look for the unexpected and next éclat. The restaurant is a reminder that Florence has always been a centre of cultural exchange, particularly during the Renaissance.”
The chef’s famous tortellini are also on the menu, served with a Parmigiano Reggiano cream. Italian classics spaghetti cacio e pepe and mushroom risotto are complemented by fun international desserts, such as Piña colada.
The eye-catching décor of Gucci Osteria features green walls topped by gold-painted lines from 15th-century Lorenzo de’ Medici’s carnival song ‘Canzona of the seven planets,’ as well as unique plant and animal world-inspired pieces of furniture. This is a reflection of the chef’s long-standing interest in art and fashion – Bottura and Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri are childhood friends and, as Bottura told reporters on the day of the opening: “Haute couture and haute cuisine are a recipe made in heaven.”
Before starting at Gucci Osteria, Lopez Kondo was responsible for recipe writing and testing for Bottura’s book, Bread is Gold, published last November. Bottura was “so impressed with her dedication, professional skills and talent” that the day the book went to print, he invited her to take on the job as head chef at his latest venture in Florence.
Kondo – or Taka to his friends – started working as a chef in Japan at age 18 and fell in love with Osteria Francescana in 2005. Bottura rewarded his enthusiasm with a job and, five years later, he became Osteria Francescana’s pastry chef, then Bottura's right hand as sous chef. He has contributed to some of the restaurant’s iconic desserts, including accidentally letting go of a plate holding a lemon cake leading to the creation of “Oops, I dropped the lemon tart.”
Bottura was present for the celebration of his two protégées’ one-year wedding anniversary this month and will visit Gucci Osteria every week on Osteria Francescana’s closing days. Here’s hoping there are more 50 Best love stories in 2018.