Isabella Potì, twenty-four years old, is already on Forbes’ Under-thirty list as one of Europe’s most rampant emerging chefs, and that is saying a lot! She has a Michelin star, which in the environment is a bit like winning a silver ribbon, the David di Donatello or a grand prix of formula one.
Sure of her facts, and aware of her potential and conscious of the work to be done, Potì has a growing career ahead.
Isabella Potì and the Bros
She was born in Rome by a Polish mother and a father from Lecce, she was trained by Claude Bosi in London, by Martin Berasategui and Paco Torreblanca, in Spain. She had already met the Pellegrino Bros her current working partner, as an intern; then on December 26, 2015 she returned to Italy, to be part of the adventure of the “Bros”, for a conceptualized territorial cuisine.
The “mission” was to return to the essence of the Salento tradition. Considered one of the thirty young people to watch for the arts in Europe, Isabella shows herself smiling but determined; presenting her absolutely contemporary desserts, never too sweet. Not to mention the soufflés, for Potì they are now an iconic dish. And then she continues to study, in fact, she has been working in the brigades of Mauro Colagreco at the Mirazur in Mentone and at Rasmus Kofoed at the Geranium in Denmark. However, Isabella Potì does not feel she has arrived at all.
The essential is visible to the taste
Everything takes place in an environment that is anything but frivolous, since everything must be concrete in the kitchen; one cannot cheat, but only meritocracy counts. Isabella soutees, stirs, plates, ladling and producing revealing scents, with a veteran ease. Discipline is fundamental, as is camaraderie, but generally private life remains outside the kitchen.
Isabella Potì and her group represent a brand; from the restaurant, to the chef-character, plates with the embossed logo, e-shop t-shirt , local terracotta tableware. They ride the wave, the moment, and the technologies with the tools available; Isabella is her millennials, born in this era and they express it. One of the mottoes of the Bro ’, her team is “The essential is visible to the taste”, therefore to present ricotta, shrimps and sea urchins means to propose; the strong ricotta, fermented according to a Salentine tradition, then the delicacy of the shrimps, and the salty sweetness of the sea urchins.
Isabella Potì knows that she has so much work to do at the age of twenty-four, and has so many ongoing projects, personal and professional improvements to be made day after day. She knows she represents the new generation, but without neglecting tradition, bringing forth ingredients and techniques for many “outmoded”. The old customs cannot be put aside.
For example, for many the bitterness is a taste-taboo, while for Isabella and her “team” is the tradition of Salento, bitter means Salento. In addition to the strong ricotta, there are sweetbreads, the ancient garum, a condiment obtained from the maceration of some types of fish and pork fat. The latter is an important local ingredient, which at Bros’ is assembled like a cream, smoked, and combined with raspberry. How to present bread and pork fat as amuse-bouche? Isabella is capable of this and more in the kitchen!
Isabella Potì and Floriano Pellegrino
Some ancient traditions cannot be forgotten. In the past, when ricotta was made, the excess prepared was preserved by placing it in an amphora with a little salt; “forgetting it” and leaving it to ferment, creating almost the rancid, a flavor that connects generations far apart.
These are ancient tastes mixed with modernity, perhaps risky, but winning. Today Isabella Potì is the column of the Bros restaurant in Lecce, as a chef since 2019 with a soft spot for pastry, and for Floriano Pellegrino, restaurant supervisor, and partner in life, in fact, they will soon get married. And then there are always the second and third stars to conquer, not bad for a 24-year-old on the rise.