The Italian-born Costardi Brothers have gained an international repute for mixing traditions with creativity, mostly known for turning Piedmont’s most famous crop, rice, into over twenty varieties of Michelin-starred risotto, making diners travel from all over the world to taste their take on the traditional Italian dish. It all started at the family-run Cinzia hotel, Piedmont, founded by their grandparents in 1967.
We sat down with the two brothers to discuss what it takes to run two restaurants together and to know more about their newest restaurant opening in Torino.
Who are the Costardi Bros?
“We are Christian and Manuel Costardi, two brothers with nine years of difference between each other who actually live like twins, our bond goes beyond that of simple bothers, so much that our Mom Cinzia always says that we are two bodies and one brain. The story of Costardi Bros began in 1987 when Manuel was born, from that moment the path of two brothers started, growing up together, becoming two brothers sharing the same passion.”
When did your passion for cooking begin?
“Our passion for cooking flowed in our veins since we were children, we grew up inside the family hotel built by our grandparents Nino and Sandra in 1967. Christian has always wanted to become a chef, at the age of three he used to play with the “Dolce Forno” (toy oven for kids) and forced everyone to eat the tart that he prepared, from being a game it became a visceral passion that has turned into a total passion for cooking. Manuel instead, 9 years younger than Christian, started to play in the kitchen with his brother, his place in the game was the pastry, where he kneaded and created the first sweets, which would later become the desserts that he serves in the restaurant today.”
When did you realize that you wanted to work and open a restaurant together?
“I don’t think there was an actual moment when we realized it, we believe that it was written somewhere. Christian has always had the desire to return to Vercelli to create the restaurant inside the Hotel Cinzia. Manuel has always wanted to open a restaurant with Christian. We have not decided to work together, but to live together with our passion and our love for cooking.”
It must be amazing to work and run a restaurant with your brother. What does it take to work together?
“Working together for us is the most normal and natural thing that exists, we are two brothers, we have 9 years of difference, but we actually live an almost symbiotic relationship, like twins. We are united, and most of all, we can understand each other with just a look or a little nod. To work together is absolutely necessary to be different and complementary: Christian is eclectic, creative and impulsive. Manuel is rational and pragmatic – Christian’s “Jiminy Cricket”. Together we become a single brain that thinks as “Costardi Bros.”
Tell me about the philosophy of Costardi Bros: Our land, Emotion, Passion & Evolution?
“Our main motto is “never forget what is outside our window”, it is very important for us to always remember where we started. Our land is fundamental for us, and we always seek to interpret it in the best way possible, is a moral obligation towards the many producers, and especially our grandparents. Emotion is what we experience every day and try to generate to our guests through our dishes – we want to create memories that stimulate thoughts, and that is food for the brain and not only for the body. Passion has always guided and moved us in this world, without passion you don’t go anywhere. We put passion into every dish, in every ingredient that we select, taste and see. Evolution is a look at the past projected towards the future. To go back in our memory of flavors, taste, and memories and try to forward it to the present day with modern techniques.”
You have successfully created a brand, Costardi Bros. How did you manage to build up your brand?
“This is a question that is very difficult to answer, we never wanted to create a brand, our goal has always been to be known for what we are, for what we do through our dishes and our philosophy. We believe that having been able to create our brand is the result of the fact that we’ve never chased growth of the brand, but we’ve always wanted to grow as chefs and continue our path of maturation.”
What does the guest experience mean to you? What do you guys do to ensure a memorable guest experience?
“The guest experience for us is very important, first, our grandmother passed it on to us, and then our mother did. The guest must be welcomed as such, not as a customer, being in our restaurant means entering our world, our way of thinking. To make the experience memorable, we provide our guests with everything in life that has led us to what we are today: every trip, every ingredient, every painting, music, and movie that we see we bring it to our kitchen, our natural place, and we try to transform into emotions.”
Your restaurant is located inside your family’s hotel Cinzia in Vercelli. How did restaurant Christian and Manuel come to life?
“The restaurant Christian and Manuel was born inside the Cinzia hotel, the hotel built by Grandma Sandra and Grandpa Nino in 1967 and named Cinzia after our Mom. Christian and Manuel restaurant was born in 2007, despite having moved its first steps between the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006, 2007 was the year when the papers were signed by me and Manuel. The restaurant was born from our desire to be together and create something new, starting from an ingredient we truly appreciate, rice, around which we have built a lot of our work and our way of thinking.”
Italy is mostly known for traditional restaurants. You guys seem to have a more modern and innovative approach. Describe the way you run your restaurants?
“Italy is the place where the kitchen has a very strong classical root, also due to the fact that in our beautiful country, the kitchen of our mothers and grandmothers is and will always be of the highest level. Logically, for us tradition is fundamental, there is no innovation without tradition, our approach is always starting from the ingredient and the desire to be able to express all it’s potential through knowledge.
We are currently learning to manage our second restaurant and it is a beautiful challenge, motivating and above all, it allows us a great mental openness, we go 1000km per hour and we really enjoy having the ability and the possibility to be not only chefs but also entrepreneurs, with the desire to look to the future without forgetting about tradition.”
Christian and Manuel retained the Michelin Star Again this year. What are your future ambitions?
“There is a sentence that summarizes what we want our path to be:“We want to continue to grow, not be mature because only mature fruits fall from the plant.” Our ambition is to continue our professional and personal growth.”