Want to meet the minds behind the menu? Here we talk to chefs Luis Romo and Tommaso Guardascione to discover their inspirations, what’s important to them and why they love cooking…
5 QUESTIONS WITH MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF LUIS ROMO
For more than 20 years, Brasserie Uno’s head chef Luis Romo has worked in both his native country of Mexico and Europe. He trained at the esteemed Ambrosia Centro Culinario school in Mexico City and has worked with renowned chefs including Raymond Beck and Jany Gleize. Luis’s experience ranges from Michelin-starred restaurants to mountain kitchens. In 2022, Luis received a Michelin Star and Brasserie Uno also received a Green Michelin Star for sustainability in gastronomy. We are proud to showcase Luis’s unique style of creative cooking and flavour combinations in our multi-course surprise degustation menu, where guests can enjoy Luis’s cooking across a range of dishes.
1. DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A CHEF?
“Not at all! I wanted to study psychology, but I went to Canada first for a few months and stayed with a family where the father was a great hobby chef who encouraged me to help with the cooking. I really enjoyed it and he said he thought I could be a chef. When I returned to Mexico to start university, I had to wait for six months before I could begin my psychology course and my dad said to me, you can’t just sit around and do nothing, so I enrolled at the Ambrosia Centro Culinario school in Mexico City. I was 19 years old and I’ve been cooking ever since. Growing up, my mum always had restaurants and we were always into food and willing to try new things. Mum had a Japanese restaurant and also a place in the market where she’d serve typical Mexican lunch plates, sort of like a cantina, making tacos for truckers outside of Mexico city. For me, it’s always the lady in the market who cooks the best Mexican food! I’m proud to be Mexican and I like to bring the flavours of the street to my cooking – salt, vinegar, sweet and sour – maybe it’s strong in taste for some people but for me, that’s what I love to do.”
2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE NEW DISHES?
“The first things I think about is the season and where we are geographically. I also think about sustainability and try to buy local and support small producers when possible. Then it becomes an expression of a feeling – the food, the mood, the weather, the winter… I’ve had to learn to adapt to where I am and use what is available. But the only true prerequisite I have is that everything has to be super delicious. When people try my food, I like them to have an open mind – I love it when people say, I don’t usually like sauerkraut but THAT sauerkraut was delicious! That’s the best compliment, but it also comes down to people being willing to try new things and see food from another perspective. I don’t have strict ways of putting things together – my approach is, why not? Traditions and techniques are super important and there are certain ways that flavours are put together that are unique to certain cultures, but I get bored if I have to cook in only one style and when I’m bored, I stop being creative, so for me it’s very important to keep doing new things.”
3. HOW DO YOU STAY PASSIONATE ABOUT COOKING?
4. HOW IMPORTANT IS SUSTAINABILITY AND FOOD PROVENANCE?
“It’s extremely important – what you eat has to make sense in terms of where you are. I am very connected to nature and appreciate all the beautiful gifts we get from nature and the way I pay it back is to be aware of how I use the produce. I feel bad every time I put a plastic bag or packaging in the trash, but choosing good products and supporting the small producers who are looking after nature is important to me. Human sustainability is important, too – we all need time to renew our creativity and we have to look after the planet as well as ourselves. Also, I work really hard to have no food waste. We take care of every part of the products we use and we portion our dishes so there’s nothing coming back on the plates and that is super important to me.”
5. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT AT BRASSERIE UNO IN THE FUTURE?
“The restaurant has really evolved since it opened and every season is an evolution. This winter, we moved to having less seats and only offering a tasting menu and it’s an experimental thing, but that’s what I love here in Brasserie Uno with Andreas; trying new things, remembering how it started and what I was thinking at that time, and seeing how it’s grown up since. There’s something special about having a small place – a small team means you’re strong, as everyone knows what to do, and I would never do it differently. Also, I like having the freedom to put anything on the menu, to share a mood with the guests through the food we create. It’s very important to have happy guests who have a nice experience, but we create the menu for ourselves, too. We have a 2.5 square metre kitchen and cook everything in the space that you see – what we produce is a kind of magic.”
5 QUESTIONS WITH BRASSERIE UNO CHEF TOMMASO GUARDASCIONE
Since studying Culinary Arts at Ecole Hôtelière D’Avignon in France, Tommaso has worked alongside top chefs including Alain Ducasse and Serge Chenet (who holds a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the highest distinction a chef can earn in France). From Michelin star kitchens to 5-star hotels, Tommaso has honed his skills for more than 14 years. He was also a key player in the Brasserie Uno kitchen team when the restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star and a Michelin Green Star in 2022. We are happy to bring his mix of Italian culture and French techniques to the Brasserie Uno kitchen.
1. WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME A CHEF?
“As an Italian with an Italian mama and nonna, I always had my nose in the kitchen. The table is an extremely important sharing moment, especially in Italian culture, so sitting down and having everyone eating together was always special to me. Cooking also provides a lot of possibilities for expression: it has some strictness to it but it also allows for imagination and creativity. To find job where you get both is difficult, which is why I enjoy what I do.”
2. HOW IMPORTANT IS ITALIAN CULTURE TO YOUR COOKING?
“It all starts with my Italian heritage combined with French knowledge. There’s something very unique about the Italian food culture – it’s very product based and simple. We have a gigantic choice of products, most of which are unique and extraordinary, and we tend to not overwork things – we just use them as they are. I am a market kind of person – my family is from Naples originally and then we moved to Tuscany and we would be in the market every day. It’s not like once a week; you go to the market every day and everything is fresh. For me it’s normal and how it should be. Many times I’ll walk around the market and see something and want to cook it and that’s my approach. I am impulsive and passionate when it comes to food and it always starts from the product up, always trying to as little as possible to the product. That can be hard as a chef, as you always want to put something of yourself to the dish that people can recognise, but I feel like there is no need for ego if you find good products – you just propose it as simple as it is.”
3. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE NEW DISHES?
“It’s mainly the products. If I see something I like, I think, what can I do with it and how can I cook it in a unique or special way that guests will enjoy. When I’m cooking for friends or family, it’s about creating a feeling, but in a restaurant, it’s more complicated. For example, with friends and family, joyful moments can be transformed by the things you cook and the way you present it. You can create a family style table with all the dishes in the middle so people can connect with the food and each other, or you can create formality by giving everyone their own plate and the way you decorate the dish, but it all depends on the mood. Luis and I laugh about it sometimes because when I cook, the kitchen goes in the direction of my feelings and emotions – there are days when I’m not into the mood and as much as I try, it just doesn’t work, but when I’m into it everything is great.”
4. HOW IMPORTANT IS REGIONAL AND SEASONAL TO YOU?
“Right now everyone is very aware of sustainability and bio products, but the idea of local and bio is not new for me. I was brought up with a vegetable garden – we were a family of four and although we didn’t grow 100% of our food, I’d say 40% of what we ate came from the garden. We also had chickens and rabbits, so for me it was always normal to use local products, but in the mountains it’s complicated, especially in the winter. I prefer to use local and seasonal and I like the concept of waiting for something – it makes it more special. For example, I love asparagus and I love that you only can eat it for two months of the year. When the season is over, you go on to the next thing.”
5. AT BRASSERIE UNO, WE ARE A MINIMAL FOOD-WASTE RESTAURANT. HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE THAT CONCEPT INTO THE KITCHEN?
“Before I became a chef, I was studying to be an environmental engineer and for me, sustainability in the hospitality industry is about looking at the concept as a whole: Where does the electricity come from? How do you take care of your waste? Do you plate smaller portions so there’s less food waste on the plate? So much of the food that gets thrown away in restaurants is because of what’s not eaten on the plate, so if you truly want to tackle sustainability, we need to start asking the right questions. I’m not sure people are ready for that – they want a big plate of food, but if you don’t eat it all, it’s a waste. At Brasserie Uno, there is almost nothing coming back on the plate, partly because our portions are not big but not small either – they are just the right size to enjoy the taste while leaving enough space to eat all the courses. We honestly have one of the smallest trash containers of any place I’ve ever worked at. I remember the first time I saw the food-waste bin, I thought, wow, we are going to have to go to the outside food bin many times during the night, but we don’t because we hardly throw anything away.”