I get my inspiration from everything. Everything in my life is an ingredient – the light, architecture, an eggplant, a scent blowing in the wind. It all becomes a big internal database. When something touches me, I stop, look and experience it. I like to give lots of time to things that come to me accidentally, because I know that one day they will be a part in a big puzzle as my body digests them and puts them in the right place. I work on intuition, based on a lot of visions and thoughts and feelings.
It's not about food. It's about people. Food is my vehicle, but the purpose and the destination are people. But I also feed off the energy of the customer – though I hate that word, so I prefer to use the word audience. We work with open kitchens: the kitchens are the stage, the chefs are the actors and you are watching us. I need your energy, because there's no way you can feed 200 people a night with your own energy – you must be an open pipe that collects energy and transforms it into an idea.
I was one of the first people in the world with an open kitchen. I chose one for transparency, and because I need the energy of the dining room. But the third and most important reason is that for each act – each movement, each plate – I need to know the final destination. I cannot cook in front of kitchen tiles because they don’t have a face. But if you're sitting in front of me and I'm cooking for you, I can imagine what I'm going to do for you – and I’m open to the opportunity that your energy will change everything at the last minute. It feels like I’m cooking in front of people’s hopes.
I cook in a completely different way at home. It took me a long time to learn how to cook at home, because there is no audience and no one clapping. When I'm in the restaurant, I'm cooking with my team and we are a chain of energy. A restaurant kitchen runs on tempo, and that fast pace is kind of a blessing because you have no time to think and no time to analyse. Analysing kills food in my opinion. You have to cook food based on instincts – that’s the way we cook in my restaurants. At home, I work very quietly and very precisely on each thing I do. The result is completely different. It's less creative and more precise, and I don't have to run away from myself – at my restaurant, people are inspired by what I’m doing and copy me, so I need to have time for myself sometimes to try new things.