Magnifying Puglian terroir, shaking centuries-old Italian classics and bringing vision to the table
Claiming that we feel deeply about food is an understatement. Pivotal to any curated lifestyle, food is the bedrock of anything in our world, whether we are talking vacation spots, weekend hideaways, friends and family gatherings or simply turning a rainy Sunday into something joyful and bright.
That would explain why we are so glad to have a chef featured for the first time in our Style talk series.
Not any chef though. A chef who trained her eye in the pebbled streets of Milan. Who graduated in fashion and design before leaving everything behind to fully embrace a childhood dream. Who is not afraid to shake things up by twisting centuries-old Italian classics with thoughtful additions. And, most of all, who invent, at one-of-a-kind Masseria Moroseta, a new field of expression for the lavishly opulent Puglian terroir through an absolute obsession for the right products, locally sourced, consciously grown and treated with the utmost respect in a simple, authentic and very refined manner.
This chef is Giorgia Eugenia Goggi. And she’s with us now. In the Journal.
Ciao Giorgia, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. We really appreciate it. So you’ve been born and raised in Milan, a city with a lot of character. What are the memories you keep from that period? I have beautiful memories of my childhood. I used to spend weekends in museums, old-fashioned restaurants and parks with my family. Milano can look quite grey and uncomfortable at first glance, but if you give yourself time to adapt and understand, you can see that the city is full of subtle beauty, elegance and hidden gems. I try to come back to Milano often, my friends and family still live there. Since I’m no longer living in Milano I have to say that I’m learning to appreciate it more; so many things are changing in a better way, it’s becoming more and more international, but at the same time still remains very authentic to what it truly is.
What was your connection with style and design growing up? I’m a libra, so beauty, balance, and harmony are always the focus in all I do and love; style and design are such a natural consequence. My mom is absolutely the same, I learnt so much from her. She gave really lots of importance to our artistic education; developing our creativity and sensitivity as children was the most important aspect of her educational program. At home we were allowed to paint on the walls of the whole house, use my grandma’s dresses to invent plays, ride our bikes inside the house, use furniture, curtains and duvets to give shape to our imagination, transforming the living room in temporary forests or tree houses for days.
What a cool way of exploring creativity. Following that playful childhood, you then went to study design and fashion before quitting everything to become a chef. What has been the “click” moment when you said to yourself ok, let’s do this now? Simply I couldn’t get any satisfaction in that, the whole system was way too sick and stressful for me. I have always had the pressing need to do something on my own, to express my creativity, and working in such a big industry like fashion was making me feel incredibly frustrated and unhappy. At the end of the day, after hours spent arranging clothes for an upcoming shoot in a huge closet room, I was feeling quite alienated and all I wanted was to come back home and bake something.
Totally feel you. What has been the most challenging thing in switching from fashion to cooking? I had to accept that I had to start everything again, study, hard work, learn from the most basic things that many times you take for granted. When you are a good home cook, you really have no idea how hard it is to work in a professional kitchen. The first months I was feeling completely unable and incompetent.
After graduating I decided to do an internship in a restaurant to see if my strongest passion could transform into a full time job. A japanese chef working in Milano was the only one to accept a person with no experience at all. I spent my months there cleaning prawns, anchovies, mixing wasabi powder and folding nori seaweed. Not the most interesting tasks, but I was incredibly happy! My love story with restaurants was about to begin. From that moment, I never looked back.
What did you learn studying fashion that you still use today as a chef? I think that having a creative background really helps me in my profession, I don’t have any rules or boundaries in my head when I approach a new dish or idea. I challenge myself to see thousands of possibilities in very basic ingredients.
How do you fuel your inspiration? I get my ideas and inspiration everywhere. I love traveling, every time I come back from a new journey I have thousands of notes of all the things I tasted and I want to try making. Recently I’m really into my vegetable garden, I spend as much time as I can there, I love observing the plants grow, see how the season changes, how the flavor develops week after week. I find it incredibly stimulating; when you are witnessing the magic of nature, you put all yourself into using those products in the best way possible.
How would you define Italian cuisine? Rich, abundant, traditional, emotional. I think that Italians are incredibly proud and jealous of their cuisine. This is important because we have an incredible culinary and cultural heritage related to food in our country and it’s important to protect and defend it. But in many situations, working in restaurants, I noticed that this translates into a very uncurious mind most of the time. I found myself incredibly frustrated because people were not really interested in discovering something new, they just wanted things as they knew it. Also the most basic things, like replacing basil with cilantro or adding some ginger to your soffritto, can be seen as something absolutely outrageous.
What about your own? One of my guests once said “Giorgia’s dishes are an orchestra of flavours, each course is like a page of an Italian passport with stamps from all over the world”. I can really see myself in this definition.
Love that. What’s your creative process in crafting a recipe? Ingredients are the main focus of my creative process, my menus always start sourcing the best things I can find in our vegetable garden. When you have incredible, genuine, organic and seasonal elements at your disposal, you don’t need to overwork or overthink to get good results.
Where does your passion for gelato come from? First of all I consider gelato the best way to end a meal, after a 7 courses tasting menu you don’t always feel like having a heavy dessert. It’s such a versatile thing, super easy to play with flavors and I’m recently experimenting with by-products like potato skins or celeriac trimmings with interesting results.
Besides gelato, what are your landmarks, signature dishes? I change the tasting menu constantly, but there are some “Moroseta classics” that I find hard not to cook every now and then. Cuttlefish crudo with preserved citrus, grapes and ajo blanco, aubergine with black garlic, buttermilk and dark chocolate ravioli, celeriac, fermented shitake mushrooms and brown butter risotto, smoked carrot, pecorino, tangerine and licorice sorrel-yogurt gelato, cocoa fondant, olive oil and sea salt wood oven cooked apples, hazelnut crumble, miso caramel and chamomile.
Your work has a very pivotal visual element to it; how do you integrate it in your whole creative process? I find it so natural, when I think of a new dish I start imagining in my mind how I want to plate it, sometimes I do sketches too to better explain to my team how I want things to be done. It’s also part of the dining experience, before tasting, everything starts with the visual part.
Your color palettes are always so inspiring; what’s your relation to color? I don’t use any artificial or chemical colors, nature is already so incredibly full of perfect tones. I love the idea of expressing a specific moment of the year through the colors of my creations. When I see the pictures I do it is really impressive how colors gradually and naturally shift from earthy tones to the first green shades of spring to explode in the powerful bold colors of summer.
We found out about your work through Alex and Trahanas, for which you co-created a collection of linen dresses; what’s your relation to clothes? I always loved clothes, growing up I’m developing a personal preference for basic, kinda unisex, effortless but perfectly crafted pieces. When I was young I used to change style according to fashion, now I prefer to look for the perfect tee, denim, shirt or chino trousers and stock in a few different colors. Exactly the kind of research that Alex and Heleena are doing.
What’s your relation to scarves? I love scarves, I wrap myself in scarves all year long. It’s also very fun to play with it when you dress in a very simple way (like I do), scarves can help you to bring some personality and movement to your look.
Who are your all-time style icons? Diane Keaton, Jean Seberg, and Sofia Coppola.
Would you describe Les Belles Heures in 3 words? Essential, effortless, timeless.
Who would you like to read in our next Style talk series? My dear friend Linda Calugi, genius designer of Twins Florence.
Thank you so much, Giorgia, it has been lovely. Hope to see you soon at Masseria Moroseta. Thanks to you, such a pleasure and honour!
This interview has been realised before the current Coronavirus crisis.