Ana Karime -Art Behind Food
Culinary Tourism - Florence
Travel gastronomy is one of my passions, last summer we visited Gucci Osteria in Florence and I found art behind their food. During this visit I had the pleasure to meet their head chef Ana Karime that presented us with quality well though food, I want you to discover more about her and why this restaurant should be in your next destination when in Florence.
Ana Karime’s interview:
Could you please tell us about your background and how it leads to the work you do today?
I have always been passionate about arts, and plastic art in particular. I was attending some courses in sculpture and paintings in Paris, preparing my French. That’s when I fell in love with the beautiful Parisian pâtisseries windows: desserts that look like miniature sculptures. The realization of the beauty and artistry opened my mind. Pastry, and cooking in general, is also a form of art. That's how the two worlds connect. I thought that the skill needed to make them so beautiful was similar to the plastic arts, with the only difference being that in this case, works of art can be eaten. And I love food. My training in arts of course has had and continues to have a great influence on my work now, in terms of flavours, products, and especially for the aesthetic of the dishes.
What is your culinary education background?
After that discovery in France, I decided to become a chef and that I wanted to stay in Europe to train and move my first steps in this sector. So, first of all I signed up for a cooking course in Sevilla, where I could attend school in my own language. Then, I started my career at Can Fabes restaurant. Next came the Mugaritz with chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, followed by Pujol of Enrique Olvera, in Mexico. Afterwards, I returned to Europe to work with René Redzepi at Noma, and then moved to Japan, at Ryugin, the three-starred temple of cuisine in Tokyo. For five years, I have been working in Peru, as Virgilio Martínez’s right hand at Central, before coming to Italy, where I started a wonderful collaboration with Massimo Bottura, that eventually led to Gucci Osteria in Florence.
3. What are five words you'd use to describe yourself and your work ethic?
I would say: determined, disciplined, caring for my team, passionate, and motivational particularly for what regards my work ethic.
4. Why are you passionate about being a chef?
Gastronomy and art have always been and still are two of my greatest passions.
These disciplines are strictly related and interconnected. They bring people together and make us share experiences and ideas. There are so many aspects that have stayed in my heart since day one of my journey in this industry. Everything is so dynamic, and I'm always learning, every moment, from every situation. All these activities give me so much energy. And that's how my passion for this job - which is really also a lifestyle - grows in me every day.
5. Are there any chefs you admire? What do you admire most about them?
To be honest, I have a long list: I admire all the chefs! In this job, you give your whole heart and soul every day, and there are so many challenges that we have to face and overcome. That's why I admire all the people involved in the culinary world: any tasks can be demanding and require dedication.
6. What is your favourite dish to cook and why?
When I'm home, I love to prepare Mexican-style breakfast for my family. Mexican breakfast is awesome and super rich, so when I have time I love to do that.
In the restaurant, one of our signature dishes is the Purple Corn Tostada, which represents my country Mexico. The dish is marinated bonito with purple corn tostada, a hint of spice and citrus. It’s an Italian tostada because we use Italian corn, but we’re using Mexican techniques.
7. What is your proudest moment as a chef?
There are two: the day we opened the restaurant and the day we received the star. The Michelin star was an award that we earned thanks to the whole team working so hard on such a beautiful project.
8. What or who has been the biggest singular influence on your work?
My inspiration is the stories people tell me, the colours I see every day and the melting pot of cultures and experiences each individual discovers daily. Life is an endless source of inspiration, lots of different elements inspire me; the weather, the city, the place I work. I incorporate this into our kitchen, respecting seasonality and always listening to what I really want to do.
In terms of people who have influenced me, I think we have many mentors in life, and I find it difficult to refer to a singular influence. For me, it started with my family. Then when it comes to techniques and professional education, Santi Santamaria was my first mentor. He was the first person to give me a job opportunity. I learnt a lot when I joined his restaurant in 2005 - we were understaffed and ran the kitchen with just ten chefs, his style of cuisine is very detail orientated, so there was lots of intricate work. Enrique Olvera from the restaurant Pujol in Mexico City was also a significant influence. I learnt that cooking in a kitchen is more than just heavy-duty work; it can also be a pleasure and fun source. Next, Seiji Yamamoto, a Japanese chef at the restaurant Nihonryori RyuGin showed me how deep a food concept could be and how crucial respect for the product is. Of course, I can’t forget Massimo Bottura; I owe him everything. I am now at the helm of Gucci Osteria in Florence because Massimo believed in me. He taught me, among many other things, the utter importance of building a solid team you can rely on.
9. Where can people find more information about you and your future projects?
On our Gucci Osteria website (www.gucciosteria.com ), where the latest updates and restaurant news are constantly uploaded, and on instagram.
All the photos on this article are by Gabriele Stabile, for Gucci Osteria.
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