Star Chef Interviews: Chef Francesco Gasbarro of La Bottega, Geneva
Meet Francesco Gasbarro, the Head Chef and Owner of La Bottega, a Michelin-star awarded restaurant in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the Michelin guide, La Bottega’s food is a whole leap of inspiration, with modern, delicious, Italian dishes full of surprises.
In addition to La Bottega, Francesco has opened a second restaurant in Geneva – Osteria della Botega. Osteria is an Italian restaurant, but its decor and food have a distinct contemporary feel. A must try for your next trip to Geneva!
1. What inspired you to become a chef?
I was born in a family of restaurateurs, so it’s in my blood!
2. Where did you train to cook? Do you recommend a formal training for someone who wants to become a chef (i.e. culinary school)?
I learned to cook with my grandmother at home and also with my father in the various restaurants we had. I also went to a culinary school in Florence. I would say that for this job you need so much passion and desire; if you have these two things you can get anything you want.
3. You got your first Michelin star just a few months after opening La Bottega, Geneva. How did this impact your career?
The impact was very strong, so many people wanted to try the restaurant and therefore the work became harder immediately, because you want to maintain high standards. Many international collaborations have started since then and I have traveled a lot thanks to my work.
4. Why did you choose Geneva for your restaurant’s location?
I chose Geneva because the gastronomic scene needed something new. Compared to 5 years ago, there are many restaurants with really interesting menus. I’m glad to have contributed with my two restaurants to the [culinary] growth of the city .
5. What sets apart a Michelin-star chef from the pack?
A Michelin-star chef lives for his job.
6. What is one common mistake you see other chefs or cooks making in the kitchen?
Try to copy someone else’s work.
7. Tell us a bit about La Bottega. How did you grow the business and how you stay relevant in a very competitive restaurant industry?
La Bottega is quite big now, we have 27 employees. It takes a lot of time to manage every aspect so you need to have a very strong team.
8. What are your plans for the future (e.g. new restaurant openings)?
To open a pizzeria and a vegan restaurant!
9. What is your signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
Pigeon Cappelletti (ravioli).
10. Where do you source your produce and ingredients for your restaurants? Can you please provide some specific examples?
The extra virgin olive oil comes from Florence, it’s a very small and organic producer “Le Colline da Vinci” and they make the oil only for us. We have two local gathers who provide us wild herbs, roots and vegetables.
11. Many chefs struggle with a healthy work and life balance? What is your take on this?
Fortunately I am not a part of these 🙂
12. Do you read cookbooks? If so, what are your favorite one?
Yes of course, my favorite one is French Laundry by Thomas Keller, it has been a source for many experiments and inspirations back when I started this job.
13. What advice would you give someone who wants to become a star chef?
First of all we must have palate, then passion and spirit of sacrifice.