CONVERSATION

Karime López

issue #09: food is cool

The Diary of Karime López, chef at  @gucciosteria in Florence. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

Diario of: @karylmt

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Ph. @maxsiedentopf
1. Your life has been a journey through food: from Pujol in Mexico City (your hometown), to Central in Lima, to Osteria Francescana in Modena, to Gucci Osteria in Florence. If you imagined keeping a travel diary (as Caleido is) what thoughts would you have written in the pages dedicated to each of these places?

For the stage in Pujol, I would write “work hard and have fun, if possible”. For the experience in Central, Peru, I would write “how much diversity! A whole life is not enough to fully appreciate it all”. While for Italy, I would write that “true love leads you to unique experiences”.

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Ph. Gabriele Stabile
Karime López
Cerasus | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
2. Your work is characterised by a strong combination of “dazzling intuition and careful reflection”. What is your personal relationship between “heart and head”? How do you find a balance between these two dimensions in your creations?

I think I actually find the balance in the chaos of ideas I have, intuitions and reflections that fight between “heart and head”, from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. Every day there is this beautiful conflict in my head, where various ideas land, and from these ideas comes everything that we then create in Gucci Osteria.

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Sea Deepness | Ph. Gabriele Stabile

3. Your cuisine in Gucci Osteria is called “Contemporary Italian Cuisine”. How does a chef manage to innovate on dishes belonging to such a deep tradition, such as the Italian one? What is your creative process?

As the question itself says, we always have to start from tradition, know it well, try it out. And only after this learning phase, the creative process begins, which must start with two crucial questions: what do I want to communicate and share with our guests? What do I want to convey this time – always looking back, not out of nostalgia, but open to learning? This is the only way we can evolve.

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Bolle Mille Bolle | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
Karime López
Peach and persichetto anmitsu | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
Karime López
Room of Mirrors | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
4. Are you a person of habit? Can you tell us about a routine that makes you feel good?

I am a mix. In the kitchen, nothing is a habit, every day is different and full of surprises, so I keep myself in a certain state of alertness that makes me feel alive every day, a state in which I learn and reflect. Of course, there are “heart” habits that give me peace, such as the days when I can be home for dinner with my family, or the “good morning time” from my team every morning. These are things that give me peace and stability.

Karime López
Interior | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
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Team | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
5. The work of a chef is closely linked to the team of people you work with. What are the characteristics that attract you most to the people you work with?

The desire to learn, the passion for food. I am very attracted by happy people, those with a smile in the morning, who make me happy too, and those who like to work in a team and grow together.

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Bruno's Scribble | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
6. We could say that Massimo Bottura is your Mentor. We all know him as a professional (3 Michelin stars), while you have also had the opportunity to relate to him as a ‘person’. What are the lessons you remember most vividly?

Massimo taught me many things, but I think one of his most important lessons is how to form a team, the human value that every restaurant has. We are all different and interested in different forms of cuisine, and we, as team leaders, have to find where each member of the team can best position him/herself. This is the only way we can see each person flourish at their best and this is how a united team is formed.

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The Birth of Venus | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
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The Birth of Venus | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
7. In our work we are often engaged in research activities. How does yours unfold? Are there any activities or places you like to go to for inspiration?

My research goes hand in hand with that of my team, through the ideas we share and the experiences we have had, and a mix of what we have seen and what we want to see. Personally, I am inspired by everything: talking to our customers, the climate of the day, travelling and learning how to share the table in different forms. I am inspired by the movement of all these thoughts.

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Purple Corn Tostada | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
8. Outside the professional kitchen, what is your relationship with your home kitchen? What are the dishes you like to cook for the people you love?

At home I have the good fortune (and also the bad fortune!) of having a chef husband like myself. This means that sometimes neither of us cook at home, but also that sometimes we enjoy sharing the preparation in the kitchen at home. I really enjoy having breakfast as we do in Mexico. For us Mexicans this meal is very important and that’s how I feel my day changes, it’s more beautiful. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time, but since it’s not a habit, it becomes even more precious.

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Gucci Osteria | Private Function Room | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
9. Food is often seen as a means of socialising. If you were to visualise an imaginary tête-à-tête with a special person (even from another historical period, or someone you do not know), what dish would you like to cook? Who would this person be?

I would like to cook for my father who I lost when I was very young. I would definitely cook a big dinner, with Mexican dishes that he liked so much.

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Emilia Burger | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
10. What is one object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it?

I don’t know how to answer this question, but thinking about it for a moment… I would say the shower or my bed, which represent rest and self-care. Other things take a back seat!

Karime López | Ph. Gabriele Stabile
Karime López | Ph. Gabriele Stabile

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