Photography by Roberto Patella
Fashion by Allegra Benini
Normally, it would seem impossible to imagine that someone like Isabella Potí could conjure up any sort of New Year’s resolution. At 24, she has accomplished more than many do in their entire careers. She’s trained under several professional chefs, including Claude Bosi at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant in London, Martin Berasategui at his three-starred restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, Spain, and Paco Torreblanca, who is considered the father of modern pastry. She was named one of Europe’s most outstanding emerging chefs on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list in 2017, and she appeared as a celebrity guest judge on MasterChef Italia that same year. And—perhaps her greatest professional accomplishment—her ambitious contemporary restaurant Bros’, which she co-owns with boyfriend Floriano Pellegrino in Lecce, Italy, received a Michelin star in 2018.
Yet Potí still has goals, and refreshingly, none of them are centered on a soufflé. "I really would like to learn as much as I can about rugby," she says. "I would like to grow personally. I'm training already with our local team."
Potí, who looks like she would be as comfortable on a runway as she is in a kitchen, has taken quickly to the fastest growing women's team sport (both in Europe and in the United States), and with reason. "I knew something about it because my boyfriend played for 11 years. It's a little bit different than soccer; I prefer it," she offers. Her main objectives, besides the obvious of just elevating her own skill, are to be a better teammate and leader on the field.
A woman who didn't just become a talented chef in her early twenties (Potí left school at 16 to study hospitality), but became one of the most notable chefs in all of Italy, can't possibly just dabble in a hobby. She must throw herself into it wholeheartedly. And from the way she speaks of rugby with passion and proficiency, it seems Potí has flung herself into the sport with the same ambition she has applied to all other aspects of her life. In fact, it has become what she calls a “project,” the “Bros’ Rugby Club” project. “It was born from Floriano’s passion for a sport that was fundamental for his personal and professional growth, and that over the years has also transmitted to me,” she says.
The Bros’ Rugby Club project, which is in progress for 2020, combines the couple’s semi-newfound joint love of rugby with a charity arm (specifically focusing on charitable efforts to help children in need). Like the game of rugby itself (at least according to many of those who partake in it), the project is “based on the values of sacrifice and discipline, on the importance of team building, respecting the ‘adversaries,’ developing mental and physical techniques towards diversity, [and] amplifying the joy of being together,” Potí explains, while adding that it will also aim to transmit to members who join “the sense of belonging to the ’Bros’ family.'"
Potí also wants “to find more time for my boyfriend and my dog in the next year.” While the couple, who opened the 25-seat restaurant over three years ago, works together day in and day out, that’s exactly what it is: work. Potí hopes the upcoming year will bring them more time together outside the restaurant, an aspiration she thinks is a realistic one. “I think this will be possible because we are improving in the restaurant, so it’ll be easier to find time to find days off,” she explains.
Improvement, though, also means more room for more expansion. In 2020, Bros’ has plans to debut a visionary talk series called Metaland in Scorrano, a village south of Salento, where Pellegrino was born and where the couple lives together now. “It will take place during the celebration of the feast of Saint Domenica, patron Saint of the country, on the 5th and 6th of July,” says Potí. Metaland will be the first international gastronomic summit in Salento with six world-renowned professional speakers, according to Potí.
The speakers will be, more than likely, a medley of the food world’s top talent, considering both Poti and Pellegrino’s connections, and the international array of talent Potí learned from. Those who look closely (or, perhaps more accurately, taste closely) may be able to identify these influences in the Bros’ menu of traditional but inventive dishes: French traditions for meat, the cleanliness of Nordic cuisine, Spanish accents. But the menu is first and foremost a nod to Lecce’s local food; everything else is just an added flare or beneficial touch Poti can add to improve each dish: “One of the best things is seeing all of our clients, all of the emotions, and what you can create with simple food.”
Though Potí has had quite the hot streak, 2020 is sure to be filled with hard work and lucky breaks for Capricorns, or so thinks Susan Miller. L'Officiel has teamed up with the famed astrologist for each zodiac sign's 2020 prediction. Miller sees that Capricorn will start to see the return on their investment as they enter their emerald year, making it the perfect time to keep the focus on your exciting life with a strong nude lip, as Potí does here.
Makeup Anna Maria Negri
Hair Giovanni Iovino