The Mountain King: this is how Elle Decoration UK called – a few years back – the chef Riccardo Gaspari.
A visceral relationship with his land, Cortina, the pearl of the Dolomites, and an unconditional love for its traditions and cuisine, have turned him into a very special chef and – without doubt – one of the best emerging chefs in Italy.
It all began a few years ago when Riccardo decided to stop skiing at competitive level, and started helping his mother in the kitchen, in the family holiday farm.
From there, a series of events and incentives followed one another; the ingredients that pass through his hands, the smell of freshly picked mountain herbs, the pale yellow color of freshly made butter, and the whiteness of the fresh raw milk of his cows, stir in him a desire to create new and innovative dishes, that emphasise all the richness that that corner of heaven gives in return.
Then the encounter with Massimo Bottura in Modena, that changes his life.
Along with him grows the idea of lightening the recipes of the alpine tradition and to re-tell them while maintaining taste and identity.
Hence, dishes with intense aromas come to life, filled with the colors of his land, and treated as if they were a work of art.
Riccardo is an introvert man, tall, with a beautiful smile, and extremely thoughtful, by his side – for years now – his wife Ludovica, volcanic, cheerful, instinctive.
They run a business together and like all the things that work, they complement each other perfectly just like two fitting pieces of a puzzle.
A little over a year ago they opened their SanBrite restaurant and completed the renovation of their new house converted from an old barn dating back to the early 1900s.
Just like for his dishes, he used “poor” and local materials also for his house: the Dolomia stone, old fir and larch wood, iron and copper.
Their house is one of a kind, completely custom-built by skilful artisans and made extremely contemporary thanks to the architectural style – which offers wide open spaces – and the use of materials like black iron and plaster that looks like concrete but it’s simply a water-and-milk based paint. Light is the undisputed protagonist of this attic, throughout the day it creeps through the dormers and the large flower windows, creating continuity of atmosphere and colors between the inside and the outside.
It’s in this house, which smells of wood and resin, that Ludovica and Riccardo raise, once again together, their two beautiful little girls.