Sauro Ricci

Sauro Ricci

After discovering a passion for the macrobiotic diet, Sauro Ricci is now the head chef at Europe’s first ever Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant. Combining fine dining with ingredients that are good for body and soul means thousands travel from all over Italy to taste his unique cuisine.

Born in the coastal Tuscan town of Orbetello in 1981, Sauro Ricci’s family were keen farmers and instilled a love and passion of everything about nature and vegetables into him from an early age. After training at culinary school, he went on to work under legendary chefs such as Antonio Guida and Michelino Gioia at some of Italy’s greatest restaurants.

However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Sauro found his true calling. The chef had always been interested in cultural and religious diversity and differences, and decided to complete a degree in anthropology at the University of Siena. He graduated with a thesis about the macrobiotic diet and its roots in Asia, before moving on to the Portugese Macrobiotic Institute in Lisbon. Here, he learnt about the philosophical, spiritual and culinary aspects of this ancient discipline.

In 2012 Sauro met Pietro Leemann, a chef who in 1996 won the first ever Michelin star for a vegetarian restaurant at Joia, in Milan. Soon discovering that he had much in common with the revered chef, Sauro started to work for him and develop his cooking style, converging haute cuisine and food that’s good for both the body and spirit.

While vegan, macrobiotic and other special diets are often seen as restrictive by chefs, for Sauro these are interesting subjects which he has explored and researched himself. He believes being aware of what we eat and managing our own relationships with food, knowing how it affects our body, is vital. Macrobiotics is what he’s particularly passionate about, as it focuses on the quality rather than the quantity of what we eat, as well as caring for the environment and looking after our minds as well as our bodies.

Sauro was made head chef of Joia in 2016, taking the reins from Fabrizio Marino and carrying on Pietro Leemann’s vision for high end vegetarian healthy food. His favourite ingredients are artichokes and asparagus, although he will only use them when they’re in season. Legumes and brown rice also feature heavily on the menu, and each dish is based around the chef’s dedication to food that’s balanced, pleasurable, free and aware.