Roberto Flore: "By respecting other people's worlds, you find a place for yours"
If the Nordic Food Lab was a table, it would be triangular: sciences, humanities and cuisine. And Roberto Flore would be exactly that last vertex, in which the hands execute and practice prevails. An Italian assimilated in Copenhagen, he is the head chef of an open-source laboratory that seeks, from an interdisciplinary approach, food solutions for Scandinavia and, from there, to pass on to the rest of world
What is the Nordic Food Lab's goal?
Discovering what we had at home, everything we could utilise to cook with a desire to hear people saying "I never thought you could eat this". It is amazing to be able to enhance what you have and connect it with people.
How does the Nordic Food Lab's multidisciplinary approach work?
The food is tackled from three approaches: scientific, humanistic and culinary. Although each of us is trained in a different professional area, we combine together. I, for one, am a chef, but by sharing with the others, I assume a holistic perspective that is fuelled by the others.
How can anyone assimilate humanistic and scientific concepts they do not control?
Firstly you must have within you the need to understand what you are doing in depth. Then, take advantage of synergies to exchange knowledge. While you are doing it you do not realise, but then when you look back, you see yourself differently, you see everything you have learned.
To what extent does this approach change a chef?
You reason everything differently. For example, you may wonder how important the beauty of the place where you work is, how much it can help you to work better. If you start working with a designer or an artist, you cannot then go back to an underground kitchen or with no windows.
What have you learned in the Nordic Food Lab?
That exchange helps you to improve especially as a person, who, by respecting other people's worlds, finds a place for your own. I learned to appreciate my culture by enhancing other people's culture.
Did it change the way you accept your identity?
Yes, totally. When I came to Denmark my English was bad. I communicated expressing what I knew how to do with my hands, and I had learned that from my culture. You then begin to understand the value of your own thing, you understand that cultures have to change, for better and/or worse, and that is how I began to see the thirty years I spent in Sardinia differently. It feels like reading a book you already know, but in another language, you see it with different eyes.
How do you imagine the future of cuisine?
I imagine a laboratory like ours will be normal in the future, because we have to cook with our hands and our mind. The chef needs a moment to disconnect, and a laboratory can help you to think and collaborate with others in order to achieve visions that bring something to what you do.