by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
April 22, 2007
Could you describe your relationship with food? How the obsession began and how it has developed?
It’s a beautiful love affair that gives me so much energy it’s unbelievable.
The relationship began when I understood that bread is made from flour and water, and that fruit develops from a plant and water. Also when I realized that it involved art and science. It involves chemistry, processes and technology. To understand why things happen and how things work gives me great satisfaction.
Having studied and worked in the top culinary scenes in the world, why did you decide to open your own businesses in New York?
New York is a powerful and energetic cosmos. Sometimes it’s like being at Rio’s Carnival. It’s a city in which if you want to make a name for yourself, it may not be easy but you can do it. The city is beautiful in its diversity. For example, the East Village and West Village are complete opposites of each other, and in the Upper East Side there’s the juxtaposition of Madison Avenue and Spanish Harlem. The chaos and the beauty of the community of Chinatown also makes a lot of sense to me.
What was your vision of Falai when you opened it in 2005? With the growth of two other Falai establishments, how has your vision and goals changed?
To have a restaurant that produced homemade products from scratch. Going through the process of making things by hand is very important in daily life. It helps your soul.
Based on the success of the 3 Falai ventures, do you plan on opening more establishments?
I don’t think so, but if I do, I will put as much energy and love into it as I put into my first restaurant.
Is there other territory that you’d like to explore and conquer?
I visited the West Coast two years ago and found a lot of natural energy that I thought was amazing. The beauty of the fruits and vegetables is really impressive. And it’s a great wine-producing region.
What’s a day in the life of Iacopo Falai like?
Unfortunately my businesses are still very new. As a consequence, my activities are pretty different day from day. But what I know for sure is that I try to put 100% into everything I do, each day.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in opening and running restaurants in New York City?
To do everything instead of just cooking.
What are three of your personal cravings in the City?
Cannolicchi (razor clams), baked in an oven with bread crumbs and parsley and shallots, from Peasant (Elizabeth Street)
Avocado, porcini carpaccio and chili, from Perry Street
Foie gras, candied olives, green peas with heart of beet juice, from WD-50
What are some inspirations that have helped you develop your Falai “empire”?
New York itself is an inspiration for me. As well as the museums, galleries and artists like Matthew Barney.
What are some other passions in life?
Reading, sailing and riding.