Interview with Simone Caponnetto: “My philosophy does not allow rushing”
Falstaff spoke to the chef of Locale Firenze about his career, his style of cooking, and why the origin of the ingredients is very important.
Falstaff: Tell us about your career as a chef.
Simone Caponnetto: I decided to come back to my hometown Florence after a long time travelling. I was a little bit lost, I missed Florence, so I built a restaurant near this one. When Covid came, it was stressful. It happened that the General Manager of ‘Locale Firenze’ called me. I took over and began to build a team with people from all over the world: Brazil, Colombia and Chile. We talk very many languages.
You travelled a lot. What did you experience?
After school, I was excited to work and travel. I was working in Italian restaurants, then as a private chef in France, England, and on a yacht in Barbados. My last experience before Florence was working with Andoni Luis Aduriz in Spain – that was the last piece of the puzzle.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
It is not easy to describe. We are doing something different to anyone in Florence, we are preparing dishes full of flavour. We do a lot of research on the products. We have a collaboration with a farmer who grows products only for us. We have a great care for products such as carrots. I really work hard on this part.
The origin of the ingredients is very important to you?
Yes; 80 per cent of our ingredients are from Tuscany, the rest from the rest of Italy. And we are waiting for the best time to put it on the menu. For example, we only use tomatoes or strawberries if it is the season. You have to feel the specialty of the product. I am still searching for the perfect tomato. For this reason, we have to change the menu very often. I really follow the philosophy of the best ingredients, and this does not allow rushing; you have to wait for what happens.
Does this also reduce waste?
Yes, and we also use new techniques to use wasted ingredients, for example pig hearts; this ingredient makes one of the best dishes on the menu. We put a lot of work behind this: we want to waste nothing and use everything. I ferment a lot, like vegetables. And we are reusing everything; we have a Risotto with celeriac and green apple on the card, it tastes super tasty but also surprising. It is about simplicity. We make everything in house.
What about the wine list?
Obviously, this is very important for us. I work closely with our sommelier; we change it every week. The perfection of the wine list is a product of people collaborating. This makes it special.
How is your restaurant different from others in Florence?
I bring different experiences with me, for example, modern French cuisine and Japanese cuisine. I went everywhere, I tried everything.
What do your guests expect and what do you expect from them?
Guests want to be surprised. We like to play with contrasts: the restaurant is old, but the cutlery is very modern, and the dishes are very innovative. I want our guests to expect something different. Here in Tuscany, the tradition of the cuisine was focusing on poor people who had to fight for sugar, for salt. We had so many recipes which combined old bread and tomatoes, these were very simple recipes. We are rediscovering the old recipes and old ideas from our grandmothers, transforming and actualising them.
About Simone Caponnetto
Born in Florence, Simone had his first experience in the world of gastronomy in a restaurant in the US. He then worked as a private chef, travelling to places such as Japan, Rome, Monte Carlo and Bologna. In Spain, he worked under chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, and today, Simone is Executive Chef at Locale Firenze, located in the Concini Palace in the city centre. The bar of Locale Firenze is in the World Fifty Best Bars List, while at the restaurant, Simone brings his own view on Tuscan cuisine.