Tommaso Buresti grew up in the kitchen of his father’s restaurant in the little town of Fano, Italy. He has true passion for food and his cooking style is one of experimentation and choreography. With a background in Industrial Design, he works as head chef at restaurant Mediamatic ETEN, a vegan restaurant at the arts center Mediamatic Biotoo in Amsterdam. The restaurant hit the news when they showcased their new layout, greenhouse dining pods set up to “redesign a new safe hospitality” to encourage and facilitate social distancing measures.
Answering the phone, Tommaso's passion for his craft and respect for his team are clear, as he speaks warmly on his time at Mediamatic ETEN.
How have you and your team managed to stay positive with the ongoing changes to daily life?
We have a really great team at Mediamatic. It has been a very hard period for all of us, as it has been for businesses across the industry. Taxes are high, rents are high and support from the government has not always been immediate.
I think the way we have managed to stay positive is really by being a team. We have all pulled together. It is not to say that we have not had discussions and difficult moments, this is a stressful time for everyone, but I’ve learnt that when you have limits and challenges, this is when your creativity will come out.
In order to have success you need a problem to solve, and a change to change something that doesn’t work or is challenging in the moment.
You’ve certainly implemented an ingenious solution to the challenges of social distance dining. Tell me a little bit about your COVID bunkers?
After we came out of lockdown and we had developed the idea for the isolated dining areas, we all pulled together to make it happen. The whole team worked to construct the greenhouses. We learnt a lot! I mean none of us had a background in construction work.
Once it was all set up, we had a trial period for family and friends to make sure we could serve our customers in the most safe and efficient way.
That certainly sounds like a lot of work. How was it coming out of lockdown and going into such challenge?
After being isolated from each other for so long, we came to a new understanding of what a team means. I really felt like I was part of an extended family. We stood by each other even with disagreements and the difficulties of adapting to a new way of working and serving our customers.
Have your customers been positive about the changes to your look and layout?
We had a lot of mixed reactions from customers, especially at the beginning. It was new for everyone. We developed a way of delivering food to the customers using long planks of wood, but we soon discovered quite a few problems with plating and presentation due to wind or rain.
Part of getting back to operating the restaurant, we decided to try a new menu concept. Every night was different, and customers sometimes were disappointed not to be able to get what they’d had before. But this is a big part of learning in the industry; you must try new things and experiment in order to land on the best concept, menu and service.
It seems that invention and reinvention are a big part of your style. Where do you get your inspiration?
I do a lot of research on new ingredients and cooking methods. Mediamatic Eten is vegan, so you must not be afraid of trying different things in order to give an exciting dining experience to your customers.
I’ve seen Mediamatic Eten’s Instagram, your food certainly looks amazing. How do you capture such mouth-watering images?
Ah, we are very lucky, as we have a team in the gallery who does all the social media, communications and pictures. Online presence is such a huge part of having a successful restaurant nowadays, and it can be tough to handle everything.
Yes, you’re right, online presence is of huge importance to customers. At TWISPER our mission is to empower businesses to take control of their online presence in a positive ecosystem for both businesses and customers.
This is useful! It does take a lot of time to keep your profile up to date, and many places do not have dedicated teams to help them!
Speaking of teams, what have you learnt from your team about positivity as you have navigated the new normal together?
I would say that harnessing the team as a collective system and not as individuals has been very important. I think that now is a time to not be so concerned about hierarchy and to just work as a team.
I’ve found a lot of positivity in the individual talents and ideas of each team member. For example, my dishwasher has a PhD in Classics but left academia for the kitchen. We have great conversations about how many of us have lost the art of serving each other and working together in a positive and sustainable way.
Every member of my team brings value and fresh perspective on things, the menu, how to engage best with our customers, troubleshooting, the layout of the restaurant etc. Each member’s voice is important.
What’s your advice to businesses across the hospitality sector for a positive future?
Businesses need to think in a more agile mindset. With everything stripped back, we saw that working more as a start-up is beneficial. Don’t wait for approval of a whole process, experiment, test and take everyone’s ideas into account. That way you will see what works a lot quicker and be able to adapt much better as things change on the global scene.
In order to have hope in tomorrow, we need to make sure that the ways we are working today will push us into the future and not hold us back.
TWISPER is on a mission to bring fairness and positivity back to the hospitality industry. During this unprecedented time, we hope to cast light on the grit, resilience and determination that are an inherent part of the industry. We know that these qualities will lead to recovery and restoration as we look to the future. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest industry news and TWISPER announcements.