“Plant-based is the future of food,” says Carlo Zanasi, an Italian chef passionate with plant-based cuisine, who bet on the plant-based market in Marbella with his restaurant Gioia Plant Based Cuisine.

Gioia’s specialty is traditional Italian, but plant-based cuisine, highlighted by the beautiful presentation of its dishes and the incomparable flavor that accompanies them. Reasons that have led it to become one of the preferred vegan restaurants in the city and one of the best in Tripadvisor, marked with the certificate of excellence.


Carlo, tell me a little bit about your history as a plant-based chef. How it all started?

My interest in plant-based cuisine started in Sweden back in 2013. I had been a vegetarian for the majority of my adult life but was working in conventional restaurants.

I got so fed-up with meat and fish, so I stopped working, and after a while, my wife informed me that there was a raw course in southern Sweden. I went and I liked it very much, and the plant-based journey started.

Afterward, I did 2 raw food courses with Matthew Kenney, and we moved to Marbella and we opened our restaurant Gioia Plant Based Cuisine.

What inspired you to open Gioia Plant Based Cuisine in Marbella?

Why Marbella: We first tried Ibiza but it was too expensive and the season there is very short, so we were looking at the map and we discover Marbella. We came for a visit and looked at potential locations for the restaurant and we found a good spot so we decided to move.


How you define Gioia’s cuisine?

Gioia is an innovative plant-based restaurant, with a focus on top-quality organic ingredients.


I see that Gioia Plant Based Cuisine is a very popular restaurant. What do you think is the main ingredient to have that receptivity?

Costumers like the food that I make very much, it’s all house-made, and we focus on giving very friendly service, to give them a feeling of eating in someone’s home. While I’m spending most of the time in the kitchen, I always try to go out and chat with the guests whenever possible. I think people appreciate the personal touch.


What has been the best or the worse part of managing a plant-based restaurant?

The best part is to have space for my creativity and also the response of the costumers after tasting the food. Perhaps the worst was in the beginning when people could not understand that food would be delicious without animals and animal products.

What are the most versatile ingredients for preparing plant-based dishes?

All the ingredients available are suitable for me – that’s the challenge.


What’s your experience with artificial meat?

Artificial meat is highly processed and often not organic, so it’s not part of the ingredients we use.


What do you think is the reason why few of the plant-based restaurants have been considered to receive Michelin stars?

In my view, Michelin stars are still based on a very conventional system. It seems like a dish without animal products is not considered to be ‘real’ food. However, I don’t miss the stars.


How do you see the plant-based restaurant market in the future?

Plant-based is the future of food – for the planet, for our health and I don’t see the need of killing an animal for eating when we can thrive on plants.


..thanks for the interview Carlo!

By Yareli Parra