This week we head to Arizona via Florence, Italy to learn more about the style of chef sensation Gabriele Bertaccini. We met Mr. B when we attended one of his underground dinner parties in Los Angeles and were equally impressed with his food as with his style.
Growing up in Florence, Gabriele has been immersed in the world of tailoring and suiting since being a young bambino. Florence is well known for its tailoring and it’s bi-annual menswear trade show Pitti Uomo. When he was 15 he headed to culinary school and at 18 he traveled to Paris where he worked for a year and a half perfecting his skills. He ended up in Arizona on a holiday and found the weather to be perfect and decided to move. Comically, he visited in the winter so when summer temperatures kept creeping up he was in for a shock. But he ended up staying there for college and fell in love with Phoenix.
After college and a masters degree he was looking for a way to work his love of food and wine into a profitable business and he created Culinary Mischief, Arizona’s first underground culinary scene. He hosted dinners in hangars, in the desert, art galleries and old homes and they became a huge hit. He then began being asked to host them in other cities. Gabriele also owns Il Tocco, a private dining experience company. “We are not caterers, instead we do the entire event from food to theme,” he explained. “It is great to have that kind of connection with a client that you don’t get from just having a brick and mortar experience,” he continued.
We gave him a ring out West to hear more about his Italian style and how it works in the scorching desert heat. His response:
My sense of style goes hand in hand with creating a beautiful product, be it selling wine or food, presenting yourself in a certain way is important, especially coming from Florence.
When I moved to Arizona amidst 112 degrees there was a lot I could not wear. But I have adapted. I am a huge jeans guy, all Levis from new to vintage. I have all of my shirts made in Italy by my tailor. Shirts and jeans are a staple for me. A man has to have good looking shirts to wear during the day and at night. There are too many t-shirts in the world.
As for shoes I have a couple of Bottega Veneta and Cesare Paciotti. The shoes are a little dressy so jeans break them down a bit. If it is not too hot I wear a deconstructed blazer. I can roll up the sleeves or wear it with a t-shirt to not make it too formal. Zegna is the best in my opinion, the materials are great and they can be worn formally or just out with friends. I also have a blue tuxedo by them that is a staple. Brioni is my go to for more formal suits. I wear them to New York, San Francisco or any place I feel like I can dress up since they are hard to wear here in Arizona.
I guess you could call my style ‘Spezzato’ in Italian, which means mix matched. You see these older gentleman in Milan and Florence who wear crazy color combinations and the whole look really has a lot of character. Americans have matching everything and it’s nice to see some variations. For bold color I usually find something from Canali that does the trick.
When cooking I wear a chef uniform I buy in Florence. Alba makes amazing chef uniforms. You can’t find them in the States so I buy one whenever I’m home. It really looks impressive and clients love it.
For a watch I wear a Panerai Numero 1950 that was my grandfather’s. I wear it all the time. I love Paul Smith cufflinks. All of my shirts are made with French cuffs. In Arizona I always need to wear sunglasses, but I loose them all the time so I don’t spend too much so I wear Ray Ban or Persol.
Dressing up is like cooking, you want to tell a story, you want people to understand your personality by what you wear and cook. It’s the way I identify myself.
Photo of Gabriele courtesy of Evan Gunville.
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