PHOTO CREDIT : FLORIAN TOUZET
Passionate about fire and local ingredients found in nature, Lucia Gaspari defines herself as an artisan who knows her raw ingredients and knows how to transform them in a respectful way. Originally from the Verona region, she studied at the ALMA school before beginning her career as a travelling chef and passing through kitchens in Copenhagen, London and Milan. While waiting to bring her multidisciplinary inn project to life, where good food, nature and craftsmanship go hand in hand, she is taking over the reins of the Sessùn Alma kitchen till January 7 to offer a menu highlighting raw ingredients.
You have a strong connection with Veneto, can you tell us about it?
Veneto is my region, the place where I have spent most of my life. It is a great region full of biodiversity, mountains, lakes, the seaside with the lagoon, flat countryside, vineyards, rice cultivations, endless ingredients and a lot of traditional recipes. But I’m mainly in love with the area surrounding Verona, a very nice mountain plateau called Lessinia, with a lot of character, full of beauty and history.
You studied at the ALMA* school in Italy, what made you choose this path?
My background comes from design, I firstly graduated in Communication Design and then I moved to Berlin. I started to work in restaurants there, a bit for fun, but after a couple of years I decided to study cuisine professionally. So I went back to Italy and study in the best school I could. ALMA is a great school where you get a lot of theoretical classes such as History of Gastronomy and Sensorial Analysis, but you also have a lot of practical time just cooking and practicing with different ingredients and techniques.
What made you choose to be an itinerant chef?
To be itinerant came as an answer to a personal need: to have time to develop my future @luce_project, to have time for myself after years working in kitchens, challenge myself and still give me the opportunity to share and exchange as much as possible. I’m good at organizing, moving, being in different situations, I love the dynamic and the energy which comes out from being around. It’s part of my path which will bring me to a more stable situation, eventually.
When is the grand opening of your inn, @luce_project, due to take place? Can you tell us about this project?
Luce Project will be a multidisciplinary place where food, nature, art and crafts will meet. It will be a Locanda where to eat and sleep but also a space for workshops and laboratories, and in the future a place to host residencies of any kind. The house is located at 930 above s.l. in the Lessinia mountains and is surrounded by a beautiful field where we are now planting an orchard and experimenting with vegetables. Unfortunately I don’t have a date for the opening since the project is blocked from bureaucracy but in the meantime the fire workshops are still happening.
Tell us about your relationship with fire.
Fire is a primordial technique, it’s something we are all related to, it’s the beginning of civilization but inevitably connected with nature. I have been cooking with fire for some time now, than I met Chiara, a wood artisan with a lot of knowledge about trees, wood and all its characteristics, so we decided to make a fire workshop together where participants can learn about wood, how to start a fire, cooking just with tools coming from nature and using only wild and local ingredients.
Fire changed my perception of taste, helped me to use my senses in a deeper way, it blew my mind.
You gather a lot of food from the wild; what is your connection with this know-how?
Modern foraging originally comes from traditional cooking. Italy is full of rural recipes with ingredients gathered from the field, from the forest or the seaside. I grew up eating simple but super tasty food coming from nearby nature. Wild ingredients are again connected to senses, with the purest taste of bitterness, acidity, sweetness, and sapidity. Almost a natural oxymoron where the simplest nature brings the most complexity. I love being in nature picking up wild ingredients and using them in my preparations, it elevates the flavor and connects the dish to the terroir.
How do you identify with the values and functioning of the Sessùn Alma cantina?
My approach to food is very artisanal. I like to define myself as an artisan, as an active observer of nature, someone who knows the material and is able to transform it with respect. I want to bring this point of view to Sessùn Alma’s kitchen, using and valorising their natural ingredients and letting them communicate through a coherent exchange with the space.