Covid-19 times – reflections with Niko Romito

We live in crazy times. A little virus has stopped the world as we know it. It will sadly kill some people and some businesses. Some things we can’t change, but some we can. We can take all precautions in our personal and business life to get through this in the best possible way – healthy, stronger and with clear goals. When life gives you lemons, make a lemonade, as Elbert Hubbard said. Take this time to rethink your life, your values and business activity. Set new goals and strategies for your life in the world after the Covid-19.

Some people still live in denial, but the hospitality sector has been hit very hard, so the chefs were between the first to react. My goal is to inspire and motivate people to not let themselves down, to keep their mood high and to use this time to start working today, not tomorrow, towards a better future. That’s why I interviewed some of the chefs and asked them to share with you their thoughts to hopefully inspire and motivate all who will read it.

A chat with Niko Romito of the 3 Michelin starred restaurant Reale in Abruzzo.

Photo: Brambilla Serrani

How did your city change because of the virus?

I am living in a small village in Abruzzo. We all know each other, we all greet each on the streets and often it includes hugs. Now, this is not happening. Everything is quiet and there is lots of respect. We exchange smiles from a distance, no joyful conversations in the breaks. But Abruzzo is a land of strong people, we will get over it.

What was your first thought when coronavirus appeared and how do you see it now?

At the beginning I thought there was too much panic, I thought that people were worrying too much. But later I got aware that a virus we have never heard of before, limited our liberties and changed our lives.

How are you spending these days?

These days are days of a deep reflection related to my projects and also the future in general which I see as more and more focused on the wellbeing of people and the entire planet, respecting the nature and its laws, studying into depth the natural ingredients, their flavours and equilibrium.

I always thought that the cuisine of the future is not meant to be there for itself, simply to express the creative ego of a chef, but has to become an instrument of education and knowledge that is shared, not limited to a few.

Photo: Brambilla Serrani

Quite some chefs have now, when restaurants are closed or empty, started offering their food as a take-away.  What about you?

Not for now, but we are thinking and working on developing a food delivery project that will work for all my realities.

What are you doing to remain positive?

I am studying, working in my research labs, developing new ideas and projects. And walking. Countryside walks are always a source of deep inspiration for me.

Photo: Brambilla Serrani

How do you see life after coronavirus?

After we have lost them, we will again start appreciating the simpler things. We will focus more on the forgotten values, we will, even more, enjoy the liberty of hugs, the happiness of being together.

This “staying at home” time can be also a great time for reflection. Do you think it will provoke some change in your life and work?

As I said before, this staying at home is really a great chance for putting ourselves back into the game, for reinventing ourselves, for redistributing the time, dedicating more of it to studies, to improve everything we do. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on everything we did by now and think of new goals for the time when this silence comes to an end.

Do you have any message for other chefs around the world?

We all have to work together towards the same goal and put the wellbeing of the people, respect for nature and our work as a message of pleasure and physical and mental health as our priorities.

Andreja Lajh

Niko Romito. Photo: Andrea Straccini

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