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In Conversation: Davide Scabin

Culinary mastermind behind Turin’s Combal.Zero talks art and the restaurant of the future

Photo: Martin Kreuzer

Is there a relation between cooking and contemporary art?

Cooking is 66% chemistry and physics, 33% creativity and fantasy. The composition of the dish must therefore have an artistic component, but without pushing things too far. I believe that what matters is beauty and that beauty above all follows canon established over the centuries. In the last year I have been working a lot on the application of the golden ratio in the structure of the dishes I create – the proportions established during the Renaissance are still valid, they are eternal.


What is the relationship between tradition and innovation?

What is now tradition once upon a time was innovation: without innovation tradition is dead, we would still be standing in front of a fire in a forest. But the challenge of innovation always starts with tradition. Innovation must aspire to move the full trajectory of the past forward even it’s only by one millimetre. Otherwise it's just a passing fad.


What is the recipe for keeping the customer happy?

Today it is not just the cooking that is important, you have to serve up emotions too: you go to the restaurant in the same way that you go to the theatre, you want a complete experience. Technique and organization therefore have to come together to create a kind of magic, a show. And new figures in the dining-room such as a modern "host", a link between the kitchen and the dining room, who knows the whole process from the ingredients to the recipes, right through to the wines, which should not remain the exclusive preserve of the maître.


What do you think restaurants will be like in 2030?

Polarized. At the one extreme, those where eating will be like going to the opera – at the other, popular local places where today I see great quality and preparation. All in the name of green and sustainability, not only from the point of view of the search for raw materials, but also in the design – the materials used in the building and its energy standards.



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