Article by Gili Biegun
Chef Xin Ge Liu: Crafting Culinary Dreams in Florence
Meet Chef Xin Ge Liu, the creative force behind Il Gusto di Xinge in Florence. Hailing from Hebei, China, Xin Ge Liu's journey from a passion for painting and fashion led her to Florence, where she discovered the perfect canvas for her culinary artistry.
Where did you grew up and how did you end up in Florence?
I was born in a city in Hebei, approximately 300 kilometers north of Beijing. Since childhood, I’ve held a deep passion for painting and fashion. After high school, despite my parents’ wishes for me to join the army, my curiosity about the outside world was insatiable. The movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ catalyzed my departure from my hometown and led me to Florence.
Why did you decide to open your restaurant in Florence?
I firmly believe Florence is a shining stage akin to its millennia-old history. This city possesses an international atmosphere that I adore. My child was born here, making it especially significant. Our restaurant has become an integral part, adding a touch of color to this environment.
Are there any dishes with special stories? Which is your favourite?
I find the “shibari chicken” intriguing. It’s a part of Legàmi. Choices or regrets, pursued or endured, real or perceived—each of us has been bound at least once in life. Bound to people, to situations, by fear, by love. There’s a desire to shout, cry, fight. A desire to break the bonds with strength and hope. To cut, untie, break. To liberate! The “Shibari chicken” originates from a dream and a necessity. The pursuit of freedom and liberation from the knots of everyday life becomes an iconic dish, to be eaten with hands, tearing and freeing the meat from the strings.
As a chef, what is your culinary philosophy, and how does it translate into the dishes you create at your restaurant?
My culinary philosophy is to convey emotions and fashion through food, presenting food with a design approach. Our interaction with diners and the unique taste experiences form the core of our dishes.
The ambiance at your restaurant is as captivating as the cuisibe. How did you approach the interior design to create this unique space?
We live in a real society, yet each of us retains dreams and fantasies, an untainted childhood innocence. Our restaurant is like a dream chest. Dreams exude warmth, hence we’ve opted for welcoming colors, embracing every guest who steps in. It’s not just a restaurant but a warm, creative space. The interior design creates an infinite extension effect through multiple arches and the final mirror, like a time-space tunnel with no end, representing our philosophy of cooking, past, and future.
Florence has a unique culinary scene. How do you see your restaurant contributing to and enhancing the diverse food culture of the city?
Our restaurant not only offers food but is an entire sensory experience. Guided by the restaurant’s ambiance, you gradually become a part of it. The restaurant is me, and I am the restaurant.
Do you host any events? Tell me about what are the upcoming events at your restaurant.
Yes, we organize various events. The upcoming one is “Evolution,” on the last day of 2023, celebrating the arrival of the new year. On January 13th, we’re conducting a tea ceremony class, sharing insights into different teas with an international tea master. February 10th is the Chinese New Year, and we’ll host live music and a special menu to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year.