After talking about the impact of coronavirus with Niko Romito, Eugenio Boer, Riccardo Camanini and Perfecte Rocher, here is Karime Lopez, the head chef of the Gucci Osteria, sharing with us her reflections.
How did your city change because of coronavirus?
Florence is a very popular city, as you know, and suddenly we have witnessed the city becoming a lot quieter, so that was the initial big change. Italy has been the first country after China to experience a great hit by the coronavirus. In the first week, it was like living in a movie – nobody could believe what was going on.
This situation that we all are facing is twofold. On one hand, we are experiencing a global crisis in many senses. People are striving to maintain their businesses all around the world which naturally brings hardship. However, on the other hand, we are constantly thinking of methods to boost the industry and help each other, to help picking things back up once the climate has calmed. A lot is still uncertain right now, but we know that we have something to work for. Italy is an amazing country and everyone is bringing positivity despite all the discouraging news.
On the other hand, as we know, in this industry we never have time to stop, to think deeply outside our job, to really appreciate time. Now that we have time, I envisage this to be a beautiful Renaissance for everyone. We now appreciate things that we previously may have taken for granted. We are proving that we are capable of living in an alternative way with enough to live, and we are helping those who cannot go to the shops themselves. We are taking care of ourselves whilst simultaneously working at home. This shows resilience in so many ways.
What was your first thought when coronavirus appeared and what do you think now?
The first time I heard about coronavirus, I thought we were very far away from it. We all recall China’s quarantine, then after a month or less, I heard the news that it had spread to Northern Italy. My home in Modena became a red zone so the quarantine started there as well – the reality hit that this was actually happening here in our homes and that the only way to prevent it was by staying in and following the statements issued by the government.
It’s somewhat inconceivable what is happening in my country and around the world and we of course have an element of fear, but we remain positive.
How are you spending these days?
I’m certainly managing to do a lot with the spare time and this is making me appreciate the small things of life.
I keep myself constantly informed about what’s going on globally. Of course I have more time to spend with my husband and to speak with my family, which I truly treasure. I am also in touch with my friends and colleagues around the world to make sure they are well, trying to be supportive and to instill positivity.
I’m of course brainstorming with the team to work on exciting new dishes for the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Florence, surfacing ideas that were previously put aside due to the lack of time.
I have enrolled myself in a Japanese course (my husband is Japanese) that is proving very tough but rewarding too…
Did you transform your activity?
Together with the team, we decided to temporarily close the restaurant as precautionary measure in the interest of public health. We have been responsible with the whole team and the guests. Guests have of course been very understanding in these difficult times for us all. As a team, we are brainstorming new ideas and inspirations to keep ourselves positive.
This is a hard time for all those working in hospitality around the world – also for suppliers, farmers, all those who offer services to restaurants. We are all looking at how we can support each other.
Although we have temporarily closed the Gucci Osteria at this time, we speak with our suppliers almost every day to stay positive – this will definitely make us stronger when times have calmed. Be sure to keep your eye on our website and social media for the latest information on the restaurant.
What are you doing to stay positive?
I’m doing so many things – speaking with Massimo Bottura makes me feel very optimistic, my husband – Takahiko Kondo, sous chef at Osteria Francescana – is naturally an extremely positive man, and the support from Gucci is amazing. I am proud that – in addition to Kering’s donations in China, Italy and France – Gucci responded to a call from Regione Toscana to fashion companies for surgical masks and medical overalls, and could be able to donate 1.100.000 surgical masks and 55.000 medical overalls in the coming weeks. We are very lucky to be part of this company. President & CEO Marco Bizzarri is encouraging us all to stay positive each day and we all trust him very much.
How do you see life after coronavirus?
It’s going to be difficult initially, but as I mentioned it will be a Renaissance for us all and we will work harder than ever to build back up. This is the time to think about the incredible things we are going to do when the situation has settled, and discover more exciting new foods that we can bring to the table at Gucci Osteria, continuing to reflect our team’s backgrounds.
This time “at home” is also a time for reflections. Do you think it will create some change in how we work and live our future?
Yes, definitely. My generation was very comfortable – we had access to anything and everything; we thought nothing could stop us. Now, we realise that things can change in a couple of days,that we are not invincible and we have beautiful things that we must appreciate. We are also more knowledgeable now about how to face this type of tricky situation.
What would be your personal message for your colleagues and other hospitality people around the world?
To stay positive! And wash your hands! To build stronger bonds with your suppliers. This is the time to look ahead and discover the great things we are capable of doing.
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