The big surprise six months ago: the best French bistrot actually speaks Italian. Sardinian born 25 year old Simone Tondo's Roseval, is the best bistrot in the country, at least according to Le Foodingguide. The winning formula is the latest bistro mania: no tablecloths, mouthwatering taste. We can totally attest to this after trying the escalope foie gras served with cabbage and a plate of scampi, the best the Mediterranean can offer. Only a few covers - just 30 seats and some tables outside - two turns, fixed menu that changes every two weeks, essential cuisine without overdoing it, but effective. Tondo is one of the bold champions the NYT defined as "the young chefs who are changing the meaning of French food”.
Fine Dining Lovers met with Tondo and tried to learn more about this talented rising star whose restaurant conquered the international culinary scene in less than a year.
Define your style in the kitchen using three adjectives.
Sincere, instinctive, personal.
Why did you move to France? What do you like about Paris?
The question should be: why stay in Italy? France offers a lot of opportunities: all the rules of a traditional cuisine have been changed in the past 10 years and young cooks have space for growth. I was young and excited, still am actually! Paris has been the best choice for me: I love its beauty, something you can find in each and every corner. This wouldn't be possible without the people who live here.
What does doing research in the kitchen means to you? What are your guidelines?
Research is part of our job, I prefer to talk about the restaurant business rather than just the kitchen: we need to be both chefs and entrepreneurs. Being in this business is my passion, it's not just about cooking, it's also about giving part of you to people who decided to spend time with you: eat, have fun, relax and learn. These are my guidelines.
What do you do on your free time?
I have two passions, photography and cinema: I get to pursue both because living in Paris is like being on an open air set constantly. When I am not in the city, I like the sea. Above all, though, there is my passion for my soccer team Inter: why do you think we keep Roseval closed on weekends?
What can't you stand in a restaurant?
Practicing only your style is no means to an end and most chefs only cook for themselves. Remember American Psycho? In one scene, Patrick Bateman keeps looking at himself in the mirror while he is having sex: it's basically what some chefs do when they cook.
Who were your mentors?
Everyone I've met. First of, Cristiano Andreini and Roberto Petza: they are from Sardinia too and they taught me to keep my regional identity. Mauro Colagreco, Giovanni Passerini and Petter Nilsson taught me you can have a sense of territory even in a city or just any place even if it's not where you are originally from.
Opening a place with few rooms to give my customers the best care, meet different people and get to know them. It's like being in a small theater: you can give people a refill if they liked your dish and get to hear what they think of the food.
Now a three-Michelin-star restaurant, Noma has changed, but not necessarily on the plate. According to Kenneth Foong, it's all about the way the team works, which is closer to a tech company than a traditional restaurant. Read our exclusive interview with Noma's head chef.