Simone Cipriani (Essenziale)

Simone Cipriani (Essenziale)

In an atmosphere that is laid back yet dynamic, and where every detail is painstakingly contemplated to mesmerize the senses of each guest, Chef Cipriani’s brilliant cuisine and flavor-packed menu will please every palate.

Words by Jennifer Papa - Photography by Dario Garofalo

Simone in his kitchen at  Essenziale  in Florence.

Simone in his kitchen at Essenziale in Florence.

Is the creation of a new dish a chaotic journey? Take me through the process.

When it’s time to change the menu, I open my senses to my surroundings, the season, the temperature, the produce, and the colors. Then begins a journey of trial and error. Thoroughness is paramount, but also creativity must be given free rein. I bring my team together and we start experimenting, playing, creating - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  We let go, and we try again and again. At the end of this trial-and-error period we have several dishes in the pipeline from which we compose a menu, no trivial feat by any means.  You have to make sense of everything, without repeating the ingredients and in harmony, but you also have to present palate-opening surprises.

What is the most important ingredient in your kitchen?

Having to choose one ingredient would be a grueling task. But citrus fruits, Asian ingredients, chicken liver and various sorts of fish have a given place. 

What season and its produce inspire you most?

Each season is unique and inspires me in its own special way. Summer calls for a menu that is refreshing and rich in fruits. Come fall I enjoy mellow and melodious flavors, while I associate winter with comfort and citrus fruits. Spring is a time of rebirth, inspiring a lighter menu in preparation for summer.

DSC_3388_7050.JPG

Your kitchen draws inspiration from around the globe. Is there any international cuisine that you’re particularly interested in exploring?

I would love to travel to India and South America to learn more about their culture and cuisine.

As a chef with an international vision you must have an inquisitive palate. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Century eggs, grasshoppers, natto (fermented soy beans) ... all terrible and rather meaningless in terms of taste, but interesting and inspiring nonetheless.

Running a restaurant is a tough business and getting all the numbers right is crucial. Does this curb  your creativity?

No, I don’t see it as a restriction on my creativity. Thankfully I have partners who take care of the business side of the restaurant. I’m terrible with numbers and I despise administration.  

Was it instinct that told you when you were ready to open your restaurant?

I opened my first restaurant when I was 24. I made many and big mistakes, and I had to shut it down. But I’m still here. There is seldom a right moment to open a restaurant, and when it seems like the right moment, it often is not. When it comes to opening and running a restaurant, perseverance is key, even more important than courage.  

Complete the sentence, ‘Every successful restaurateur must…’ 

Have a strong identity, consistency and constancy ... as well as patience ...

Is obtaining a star a dream of yours?

I’m not a believer in guides so getting a star is not an objective for me. I work for my own and my team’s serenity, and to make my guests happy.

Say you’re hosting a dinner party for a close group of friends. What will you serve?

Easy. I’d order meal delivery!

DSC_3323_6987.JPG