Paris, Portugal, Switzerland, where next? The itinerant restaurant ONA told by his inventor, Luca Pronzato.
Young people are inhabitants of the world. Communication inevitably leads to the knowledge and opening up of ever-greater frontiers. One example is Luca Pronzato, 27 years old Frenchman, of Italian and Spanish origin, who decided to change the concept of the restaurant by offering the idea of touring restaurants, the so-called Pop-ups, now present in Switzerland, Paris, and Portugal. He attends a three-year Management course at the Sorbonne, but his gym of life is his job: twelve years of experience in restaurants, three of which at the Noma, in Copenhagen. He was born in the sector, thanks to his parents, who had a little Italian shop, where he developed sensitivity for small producers. He developed a passion for service and wine that led him to travel around the world in a year to discover wine producers. In March 2019, he founded ONA.
What Is the ONA project? And what is its aim?
ONA is a young project where working with people with different backgrounds became a school. ONA means wave in Catalan: it’s the metaphor of today’s young chefs, always coming, like a wave, proposing new scenes and experiences. The goal is to develop pop- up, short temporal restaurant around the world, and give access to it to a lot of people. We take over places, a restaurant, an apartment, and it can last from one week to six months. The real thing about ONA is to promote and showcase all the young chefs, mixologists, that worked in excellent restaurants and give them a platform where to express themselves. We encourage the horizontality of talents and provide them with the risk of being creative. We also support local producers, winemakers, carpenters, ceramist, and we respect the way they produce. In this way, we want to celebrate a community of talents and producers all united in the culinary experience that we want to give to the costumers.
Are young chefs working also in other restaurants?
So, there are no rules. We mostly work with people that want a restaurant, and we want to give them a platform to be able to build a restaurant without having the financial pressure or the massive business operation of opening a restaurant. Most of them left a restaurant and are in a phase of transition before they begin their restaurant: we give them space where they can fully express themselves being creative.
Why the necessity of opening a temporary restaurant? What is the fundamental difference between this and having a static one?
It has a lot of differences. We don’t have a lot of frame time to make things happened compared to restaurants: the challenge is the most significant difference; it is what makes chefs excited as well. They need to create a quick menu, to be involved in the process of creativity without the kitchen, maybe. In Paris, we took over an apartment that became a professional kitchen. I think this is a huge difference where we can go out of our comfort zone and taking a lot of responsibility. We can do it because we have less pressure.
How is your cultural mixture influencing your idea of cuisine?
Our creative aspect it’s horizontal: we all participate in the creative process. We are mixing the cultures in our restaurant. We arrive in a place; we respect the community of local producers. We always have a project manager form the country we are working in, and then chefs from different parts of the world, mixing all the cultures. We invite a lot of different chefs from abroad all the time. So, it’s precisely the mix of culture that we want to represent: this is the way we can learn, and we can teach each other because we make a lot of mistakes and we have to learn, it’s the only way we can evolve
What tools gave you working three years at Noma?
A lot of things: Is the place I learn the most, mostly in service and experience.
How many people are working at ONA now?
We started two people: Patricia Pombo and me in Portugal for six months for the first project in Caparica. And now we are about 20 people. We have one in Costa da Caparica (Portugal), one in Basel on Fire in Switzerland and at L’Appart in Paris.
How do you choose the cities and locations where you do the itinerant restaurant? And the chefs and menu to work with?
We indeed redesign and shape the place — all the time we choose in the team. I think we choose a place because we love it and we love the products. We for sure rebuild a site, but it’s always exciting because it’s not that we change the place because we saved it; it’s more about we collaborate with exciting partners, trusters finding an identity with them, or a new one.
How do you integrate the collaboration with small farmers and winemakers?
We are a big community for a lot time. We go around, we have a lot of chefs going around, meet a lot of people, we showcase them, talk about their work, promote them. We met them around the years: the love for products is something we share. Before opening a new project, chefs are going around, meeting producers, creating a relationship, which is essential.
The topic of local food, from small producers, is becoming more and more critical. What are some of your local partners from whom you source? And an example of which products do you use from one of these producers and what do you create?
For example, we work with Ferme du Doyenne, where The farmers are James Edward Henry and Shaun Barney Kelly. We buy incredible Russian cucumber, pumpkin and so on.
How today’s society food choices are reflected in gastronomy? And how should it be reflected in your opinion?
I am seeing the attention of cuisine got on people. It reminds me of what music was: the kitchen is the new music, and chefs are the new rockstars. This is interesting because it gives a lot of attention to what we are doing, and in this way, we can promote local producers and artisans, and I think people are beginning to be more sensitive to this now: from the little restaurant to the fine dining.
ONA is a Pop- up restaurant project that brings young chefs together with their creativity.
More info on: https://weareona.co
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/we.are.ona/