No mini survey of our current cover star Martino Gamper’s work would be complete without mentioning food in general, and his legendary pop-up dinner evenings Trattoria al Cappello in particular, for which he not only cooked, but also conceived most of the furniture, down to the cutlery and candle holders. Bon Appetit:
Your Trattoria evenings were always highly popular. Can you tell me a little about how it all started, and what the idea was behind it?
The Trattoria events came out of an interest in cooking and hosting people. I’ve always cooked, since I was ten years old or even younger, from having spent every summer from the age of ten at my aunt’s pensione in the Italian Alps. There, I learned the basics of the relationship between heat, flavour and time. Later in life, when I was travelling, cooking and gastronomy were the easiest way to earn some money, so I cooked in Italian restaurants, baking pizzas for a time, waiting tables in posh Swiss hotels. When I moved to London, I missed this very intimate relationship between the owner of a place and the customer.
And when I was working and cooking with Åbäke and especially with Maki Suzuki, Kajsa Stahl and Alex Rich, we all realised that we missed a similar aspect of this experience. Back in 2000, London didn’t have that many places where food, service, experience and cost would somehow add up. It would usually be disappointing in one aspect or another.
So while hanging out at the Hat on Wall Bar in Clerkenwell, we met Yuki and Darren, who run this sort of secret studio/bar/club. The bar was designed by Michael Marriot and it had a very nice unfamiliar but personal touch. Alex asked Yuki and Darren if we could do our food events there. And from then onwards, we held about 30 events in various places and situations.
Apart from the interest in cooking we also wanted to meet new people and show our work, so I made some furniture to go along with it, and Maki, Kajsa and Alex did the graphics. This was a way for us to give our work more exposure, outside of galleries, institutions and industry.
But we also realised that rather than having to earn lots of money and then go to fancy restaurants, we could cook anything we wanted and have a nice evening out meeting people, and with the best service, since we did it ourselves.
Photography: Trattoria Offcut Table, made of discarded tabletops