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Viviana Varese

In 2007 Viviana and Sandra decided to go into business together and opened Alice Ristorante in Milan. Viviana headed up the kitchen, continuing to focus on fresh fish dishes, while Sandra acted as sommelier and maître d’. National recognition came four years later, when the duo was awarded a Michelin star.

The next big step for the pair came when Viviana met Oscar Farinetti, the founder and creator of Eataly, a range of shops across Italy which sell the finest food and drink in the country. Her love of produce matched up perfectly with Oscar’s, and in 2014 Alice Ristorante moved into the Milan branch of Eataly, retaining its Michelin star and becoming even more popular.

The food at Alice Ristorante celebrates moments of Viviana’s life, focusing on the flavours of her childhood. ‘I get a lot of my inspiration from the Amalfi coast and the south of Italy, but because I’ve travelled quite a bit I look to other cultures, too,’ she says. ‘In a place like Milan, you have to serve global cuisine.’ Viviana is also passionate about gluten-free cooking, and has an entire menu devoted to it, alongside plenty of vegetarian dishes. All of her food has a healthy, natural focus, and she feels strongly about spreading awareness of regional Italian food on an international scale.

‘Tradition is very important,’ explains Viviana. ‘Italian food is a treasure that hasn’t been discovered by the rest of the world properly – people only know about tiramisu, pizza, lasagne and spaghetti. In places like Spain and France the government invests in promoting wine and food; I don’t think we’ve realised our potential here.’

In 2014, Viviana and Sandra became the stars of a reality TV show in Italy called The Chef and The Boss, which looks at their working relationship and how hard it is to run a Michelin-starred restaurant in Milan.

Three things you should know

In 2010, Viviana was awarded the title of best female chef by both Identità Golose and Gambero Rosso.

Viviana is an accomplished pastry chef, thanks to her time spent with Maurizio Santin and Leonardo Di Carlo – a winner of the World Pastry Championships.

With dish names such as ‘Super’, ‘Mont blanc’ and ‘Beautiful with soul’, Viviana likes to show off her creative side. Her contemporary presentation style is artful and clean, representing the full flavours of her cooking perfectly.