Italian chef Viviana Varese is a champion of inclusivity. Recently named to The World’s 50 Best list of Champions of Change in partnership with S.Pellegrino, this incredible innovator is working to make the hospitality industry a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ people, one plate at a time.
Varese told 50 Best in July that “my mission as a chef is to do the job I love and express my personality through my dishes, which are the fruit of what I experienced in life. My mission as an entrepreneur is to generate wealth, because through wealth we can offer jobs to more people and sow the seed of tolerance.” It’s no surprise, then, that her restaurants Viva, a Michelin-starred eatery in Milan, and the just-opened W Villadorata Country Restaurant, in Sicily, exemplify this ideology.
Having worked in a male-dominated industry for years, Varese sought to make her restaurants different. On building the team for Viva, Varese describes, “I started to receive more and more CVs not only from women, but also from those who identify as homosexual, women and also men who had been mistreated in other kitchens for coming out in such a male chauvinist environment.” She made sure the restaurant employees had a balanced split in gender identity, prioritizing giving opportunities to minorities and vulnerable people.
Up next for Varese is a new project centered on Ice Cream. Though like all of her work, the cause is much deeper. Having spent her time during quarantine reading news about an organization in Rome offering refuge an increasing number of women who were victims of domestic violence, she decided to team up with the UNHCR, a social services and a local women’s shelter, to hire her team. “Offering them a job means offering them dignity,” she said, “because it gives them the freedom not to have to depend on anyone anymore.”
Read the full profile of Viviana Varese here; and visit her restaurants Viva and W Villadorata Country Restaurant. Follow Viviana on Instagram @viviana_varese to stay up to date on her latest projects.