Alessandro Mecca’s dishes are inspired by the works and artists of one of the landmarks for international contemporary art
Since 1995, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation has supported young Italian and foreign artists with the aim of promoting contemporary art. But what might seem like an art center like many others is actually a very refined pole with an eclectic spirit in which artistic suggestions have broken down the boundaries of art proper to lead to the culinary dimension. In 2015 the partnership began between Emilio Re Rebaudengo, son of the president of the Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation and owner of the Spazio7 restaurant, and chef Alessandro Mecca. The entrepreneurial and culinary qualities of the two come together to create a real jewel complete with a Michelin star within the Foundation.
How did you decide to leave Villanova d’Asti and the summer di San Martino to work in the restaurant within the Foundation?
“It is an idea that came at the end of 2014 when I realized that to achieve certain goals I needed to focus only on my kitchen. Also, after several years, I wanted to return to Turin. In July 2015, recommended by a mutual friend, Emilio Re Rebaudengo shows up for dinner. Having grown up in Cross, I had always known the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation and every time I passed it I was fascinated by it. He was looking for a chef willing to start in September: when we met I knew it was time to go back to town and start getting serious”.
Painting and cooking, two distant but close forms of art, how many and what suggestions do the works of art of the Foundation suggest?
“The aesthetic aspect of a dish can be inspired by a painting, but they are two different forms: I see cooking more as craftsmanship, painting more as something artistic. You look at a dish, but most of all you eat it. However, working in a contemporary art museum represents a continuous stimulus: ideas are always on the move and dishes also benefit from it”.
What does cooking in a museum give you more than any other space?
“At this moment with my brigade we are discussing a lot on this aspect. We cannot convey the experience of a home, we are not. We are inside a contemporary art museum and we want the customer to perceive it: when we can really do it we will have made the leap in quality”.
Are there any dishes inspired by works of art in particular?
“There are, but I’m always afraid to say it, I’m afraid of offending the artists. I am a cook, I am a craftsman. However, over the years I have looked inside the museum, I have sought inspiration from works and artists. I tried to develop the artist’s thinking more in the menu, I didn’t look for the mere reproduction of a work on the plate”.
Is the menu fixed or does it also change according to the settings? If it changes, what logic does it follow?
“Post Covid-19 we have removed the à la carte menu, which I was particularly fond of. Today, however, to avoid too many supplies and have high management costs, we have two tasting menus on the menu: Spazio7 nel tempo, which represents the restaurant’s iconic dishes, and #OccupyTheTable, a complete expression of our cuisine. Obviously, those who wish can still choose à la carte, but two months after the reopening I realized that the tasting formula works, especially the customer appreciates it because those who choose a starred restaurant want to have an all-round gastronomic experience and stay with us”.
An overview of the menu (are there any routes in addition to the dishes?)
“It is traditional as far as the basis of the cuisine is concerned: broth, roast sauce, tomato sauce, bagna cauda, mayonnaise are fundamental for us. From these classic bases we develop the creative process, which today is very contemporary. Then we look at simplicity, we try to collaborate as much as possible with small artisans and when I can I select the raw materials directly. No matter the quantities available, my menu today can change daily”.
Covid has brought both catering and culture to its knees, you represent both of these sectors. How was the reopening and what are the prospects?
“Covid-19 has reshuffled the cards and people today approach catering in a different way. They seek concreteness, security and beauty. The reopening was rather positive for us: we have very large spaces and a very loyal clientele. Furthermore, with the reopening we have activated a new service, called Spazio7 a Casa tua: in full compliance with safety rules, I go to people’s homes, cook for them or with them, and try to bring the gourmet experience directly into their kitchens”.