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LUXURY CHAMPAGNES, WINES & SPIRITS

Closeries: Stéphanie Watine & Luca Pronzato

Born out of the imagination of founder and CEO of Clos19, Stéphanie Watine, Closeries is all about encounters.
Closeries is a series of rare encounters between an outstanding personality and a bottle that is just as much.

In each chapter of this series, Stéphanie Watine brings to light her guest through a sensory story and an unforgettable tasting experience. Inspired conversations over exceptional wines.

Paced by the tasting of a bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, discover this chapter of Closeries.
The occasion of a unique encounter between Stéphanie Watine and Luca Pronzato, passionate founder of ONA.

ONA creates ephemeral food experiences in very special pop-up places all over the world to showcase the creativity of young chefs. This was Luca’s original idea. An idea born out of his passion for good products and his proficient career as sommelier. It is with the same passionate enthusiasm that Maison Ruinart has revisited the excellence of the champagne tradition ... even in the food and wine pairings. Like Luca, Maison Ruinart inspires both the art of tasting and artistic creation. Please be our guest in this wonderful conversation, and discover his taste for exceptional products, his background, his future desires, his projects but also his fondest memories within the adventure that is ONA.

 

Stéphanie Watine

Hello Luca, we are at the restaurant Le Tout Paris, one of the four restaurants of the Cheval Blanc hotel. This restaurant unveils panoramic views over the city and city life.

Luca, I would like to introduce you, please do not hesitate to add anything you would like. You are a sommelier, a natural wine lover, and the founder of ONA. ONA is a unique concept of pop-up restaurants all around the world. ONA celebrates the creativity of young chefs.The first question I want to ask you is "So… are you happy and relieved" to finally get out of a world without restaurants and without travel?

Luca Pronzato

First of all, thanks for the invitation. I feel relieved having been being able get through such difficult times. It has been difficult for the whole industry. But it has allowed us to reinvent ourselves and come out of it stronger.

Stéphanie Watine

How did you experience this health crisis?

Luca Pronzato

It has been a period full of uncertainty for all restaurant owners, and especially for ONA. Our model is based on itinerant pop-up restaurants, and therefore on travel. If you cannot travel to set up your ephemeral restaurants, you have to reinvent yourself, and I experienced that as a challenge. How to rethink the model, keep the unique experience while adapting to sanitary measures. It was a real creative challenge. But our community, our clients, have felt and recognized how hard we have worked… We have set up home delivery baskets and a home chef service. In the end, we came away with even more loyalty than ever from our customers.

Stéphanie Watine

This conversation is also a nice excuse is to pair an outstanding personality with a wine bottle that is just as much. For this Closeries chapter, we have chosen a champagne. Ruinart Blanc de Blanc. This is a champagne that you obviously know. Are you happy with this pairing?

Luca Pronzato

Very very satisfied… We also collaborated with Ruinart during confinement. We created baskets especially for them, in collaboration with chefs, like Céline Pham for example. Ruinart is a wonderful champagne house and I am a huge fan of Frederic Panaiotis - the cellar master - whom I had the pleasure of meeting.

Stéphanie Watine

You are a natural wine lover, are you also a champagne lover?

Luca Pronzato

I had the chance to work with Anselme Sellosse when I was 18, a winemaker from La Côte des Blancs. He taught me a lot, he was a great mentor for me. He taught me the love of certain grape varieties, in particular Chardonnay, and the respect of all these great champagne houses which made the greatness of Champagne region.

I worked in La Côte des Blancs and also in Burgundy. So, I am a big fan of Chardonnay… I think it is one of the most versatile as well as one of the greatest grape varieties. When we say “minerality”, I think champagne is the symbol of minerality and chalk. Definitely I am a huge fan of all this.

Stéphanie Watine

This Ruinart Blanc de Blanc is obviously 100% Chardonnay. But there is more to it … Between 25 and 30% of reserve wines, a large majority of which are Premiers Crus from La Côte des Blancs and La Montagne de Reims, are associated with Sézannais wines for roundness, and Vesle Valley wines for a touch of freshness and lightness, to compose the blend of this champagne.

Now Luca, it's time for tasting! Please look at the delicate colour of this champagne, it is bright, golden yellow with light green reflections. Can you see? And look at the subtle effervescence of these bubbles…

Luca Pronzato

Cheers! Amazingly beautiful bubbles!

Stéphanie Watine

Let's talk about its aromas. Can you smell those ripe citrus aromas? And those white peaches notes?

Luca Pronzato

It has a very rich and complex nose, intense nut fruit aromas … It is a beautiful nose.

Stéphanie Watine

This unique lasting flavour … that leaves a nice refreshing mineral finish on the palate.

Luca Pronzato

I think it's a signature champagne… this typical minerality of Ruinart, you can really taste it in this champagne….

Stéphanie Watine

With regards to food pairing, Ruinart Blanc de Blanc is a nice combination with seafood or shellfish.
You who are interested in world cuisine, what pairing would you recommend for Ruinart Blanc de Blanc to express all its richness?

Luca Pronzato

I think I would go to shellfish as well. But I would associate something more exotic with it. For example, in Turkey, in our new pop-up, we have a dish made with salgam pickle juice. Salgam is made with fermented turnip. We add this fermented turnip juice to the oyster… it has a magnificent colour, slightly burgundy. We then sprinkle it with sea parsley, which brings a touch of iodine. I believe it would be very interesting with this champagne.

Stéphanie Watine

Now let's go back to your personal journey if you don't mind. Your parents had an Italian grocery store.
They raised you in the love of good food. Was it obvious for you to follow their path?

Luca Pronzato

I had the chance to grow up in the slow food movement. Respecting small producers and responsible sourcing are key to this philosophy. These are values that my parents instilled in me through their passion for their job.
And then I quickly developed a taste for catering, then for wine… working for Thierry Breton, for Atsushi Tanaka… I had the chance to do the OIV - a master's degree in wine –, then travelled 30 countries in 11 months with great people like Gerard Basset and great winegrowers. After that I joined NOMA for 3 years. I was very lucky to always stay in this very creative universe.

Stéphanie Watine

You started your career as a sommelier and worked for the best restaurants in the world.

Now that you are promoting the talent of young chefs through ONA, your platform for pop-up restaurants, would you say you have finally chosen the best of both worlds?

Luca Pronzato

A little yes. When I created ONA in 2019, we really wanted to create a community of chefs, producers, sommeliers… People who would “ride the same wave”. ONA means “wave” in Catalan… in honour of my mother who is Catalan. People who would gather over exciting culinary events. ONA wants to empower young chefs by defining the art of food and wine. We recognize the wishes of chefs who want to make seasonal and short-term residences, and we let them express themselves fully. And we never forget our founding first goal: to provide an incredible meal for our guests.

Stéphanie Watine

When you say ephemeral, what does that mean?

Luca Pronzato

We love art a lot, we love fashion a lot… so we had the chance to follow major events like Art Basel, Fashion week … So this means one week, ten days. We also work with hotels like Sixsence in Turkey, Habita in Mexico… In this case, it's more like six months so we are lucky to be able to invite a lot of chefs over that period of time: one per week.

Stéphanie Watine

Luca, we are now in a prestigious location, above the river Seine, in the heart of Paris. You have taken over surprising places with ONA. What is your fondest memory, or the one that marked you the most?

Luca Pronzato

We are lucky enough to create ephemeral culinary experiences in very special locations: a restaurant on the beach in Portugal, an old water tank in Bale, a very beautiful Parisian apartment with a view over of Paris … that reminds me of this place. We always rework the design, we create a very special atmosphere and we adapt to local culture: “time and place” is our motto.

Stéphanie Watine

Which dream location would you like to take over now for the next ONA pop-up restaurant?

Luca Pronzato

The rooftop of the Samaritan department store perhaps? All joking aside, we are always investigating unique locations to settle down differently and on a temporary basis. Places with beautiful views like that are one of them.

Stéphanie Watine

Could you tell us a bit about ONA's projects to come?

Luca Pronzato

Of course… At the moment we have a very nice beach restaurant in Kaplankaya in Turkey, in front of Bodrum. It is in an exceptional setting by the Aegean Sea. We are also building a beach house in honour of Casa Wabi in Mexico where we will invite chefs such as Guillaume Sanchez, who has just arrived today, Atsushi Tanaka, Alexia Duchêne… We will have the chance to work with Aykut Doganok from restaurant Nicole... And finaly we will open another pop-up in Mexico on September 15, together with the Habita Group in Circulo Mexicano.

Stéphanie Watine

Will you be able to travel there?

Luca Pronzato

Yes

Stéphanie Watine

Lucas Pronzato, thank you so much for sharing this Closeries chapter with us.