Two young chefs seek investor to open their restaurant, conceptualized in a supermarket fish counter

Jun 10 2024, 18:04
Silvano Toscani and Gioele Vacchina, not yet fifty years old between them, are the brains behind the NØØNË project, born in the fish department of Despar. We had a chat with them to understand their dreams and future plans

At the beginning of the year, we tried to pinpoint some 2024 dining trends, from ugly plating to the return of trolleys, to reorganizing work hours to improve the quality of life for workers. Among the trends – with some wishful thinking, we admit – were chef-less restaurants and nomadic chefs. A trend that, to be honest, hasn’t caught on, at least not in Italy, but some itinerant kitchen projects exist. Not so much because it’s a lucrative affair but because it offers chefs a chance to stay active (and in the spotlight) while waiting to open a proper restaurant. This is the case with Silvano Toscani and Gioele Vacchina, aka NØØNË, who tested themselves with a pop-up on Lake Como in 2022 and then cooked at the House of Ronin restaurant in Milan for the “Omakase Roulette” event. Now, from June 12 to 15, they will be cooking in the micro kitchen of the Ruvido wine bar in Rome.

Silvano Toscani and Gioele Vacchina

NØØNË, meaning nobody. “In our experience, we were often treated like nobodies,” recount Silvano and Gioele in unison, the former born in 1999 in Borgaro Torinese, the latter in 2000 in San Damiano d'Asti. Both hold diplomas from hospitality schools and have various, albeit relatively short, experiences across Italy and beyond. Silvano has worked at places like La Madernassa, David Muñoz's StreetXO in London, and as head chef at Ristorante del Cambio. They met on social media and together worked at Despar, the supermarket chain, managing the fish department. It’s here that the idea for NØØNË was born. “With our project, we want to challenge the stereotype of young people being seen as lazy, as nobodies. At the same time, it includes the words 'N° one,' symbolizing the determination needed to reach the top.”

The NØØNË gastronomic project

So, what exactly is NØØNË? “It’s a gastronomic project characterized by a concrete approach to cooking where taste is central, and aesthetics and concepts are never secondary. The project is founded on research and the power of emotions, aiming to create experiences that leave a mark.” We still don’t understand. “We want to open a restaurant where you go and feel emotions, where you satisfy both physical hunger and the hunger for knowledge, filling the dining experience with emotions. Regarding the food, the goal is to remove everything superfluous for a concrete cuisine shaped by the territory, where concepts and aesthetics are aimed at taste. Even the surprise should be aimed at taste. We’ve designed an entire tasting menu called 'Excluded,' featuring only fruits, vegetables, and legumes, going beyond the classic vegetarian menu. On the service side, we imagine narrators or presenters acting as a bridge between the kitchen, service, and customers. Even waiters could have the opportunity to express their passions: imagine a waiter who starts singing or playing an instrument during dinner!” It’s a stream of consciousness bursting with dreams and insights: “We want to revolutionize the language of the restaurant.”

NØØNË at Ruvido in Rome

To realize the NØØNË project, the two are eager to open their own restaurant. What are you waiting for? “Someone who believes in us.” An investor? “Yes, or a restaurant looking for a chef,” they candidly reply. We wish them luck in finding one. In the meantime, if you’re curious to try their cuisine – we are: during our chat, conceptually interesting dishes emerged, such as those called “Sosia,” like kidneys and corona beans or tripe and Parmesan rinds cooked in broth – the menu at Ruvido includes six courses: mirepoix oil (made from celery, carrots, and onions) and bread, grilled skate wings glazed with cashew milk and fish broth served with a tomato, flaxseed, and herb dip, cold stracchino risotto – the two are working a lot on the concept of cold risotto – with sausage ragù and tenerumi, wild pork cheek with fennel and bitter herbs, nectarine, pecan, and red Malvasia. “The menu is called Sinergie Vergini, representing the synergy between us and the connection with virginity, a young idea,” which certainly deserves to be heard.

Ruvido - Roma - via Apulia, 11 -

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