This New Manhattan Restaurant Makes Flowers the Focal Point | The Slowdown - Culture, Nature, Future
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A bright white and orange bowl of soup on a marble surface.
Photo: Emily Hawkes

Botany takes center stage at Il Fiorista, a new concept restaurant from husband-and-wife duo Mario and Alessandra Benedetti that includes an in-house floral boutique and hands-on workshops and classes. Here, the Benedettis share the source of their endless inspiration, and why they traded Milan for Manhattan with the dream to create an edible temple to herbs and flowers.

“We decided to move about three years ago, and finally made the move two years ago. It was always our dream to come here, change our lives, and do something new together. We knew we wanted to do something in hospitality, but we also wanted to do something more than a simple restaurant. The idea was to create a space that was about, making use of, and all around surrounded by flowers.

So, why flowers? Both of us love natural flowers and plants and herbs. We realized it’s crucial to start studying flowers for many reasons—not only for the incredible and obvious beneficial impact that they have on the environment, bees, and pollination. It’s also an agricultural movement: We found that planting flowers in the fields, once the farming season is finished, can naturally replenish nutrients into the soil.

We also studied the tradition of edible flowers, and discovered a whole new world. The history of edible flowers goes back thousands of years. They have incredible health benefits. They’re full of vitamins, rich with antioxidants, and used to guard against many diseases. And they’re not only good for the body, but the mind, as well—we learned about the mental benefits of adding flowers to your surroundings, in reading literature on horticultural therapy.

Of course, we really love good food and good wines. At the end of the day, having all these interests and ideas on the table, we thought: Why not shake all these ingredients together, and have them all in the same project, in the same place? And here we are now, with Il Fiorista. This is our idea, so far. One day, next, we hope to also have a farm, not too far from the city, but far enough to be out in nature, where we can produce our own flowers and grow our own products.”

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Rich Shih, founder of the blog Our Cook Quest and co-author of the forthcoming book Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation, is a self-taught cook and fermentation expert who makes everything from takuan pickles to fish sauce from scratch, twekoji, the source of umami in fermented ingredients like miso, soy sauce, mirin, and more.

A carafe, glass, and can of Makku on a green backdrop.

South Korean cinema has been on everyone’s lips this week, in the afterglow of director Bong Joon-ho’s triumphant OscarsParasite, the grand finale to a months-long award spree that began with a Palme d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival last year. making history in more ways than one. By his second acceptance speech, Bong, whose reactions were being duly memed, was ready to hit the bar. His exact words: “I’m ready to drink now, until the morning.” A total mood.

One of Chen and Williams sculptural food machines.

Process, materiality, and a sense of playfulness often figure into the work of designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams. As does a love of food: When not making furniture or products, the Brooklyn-based duo are known to stage intricate foo

A window with lettering at The Orchard Townhouse.

Phil Winser, co-owner of Silkstone, the hospitality company behind celebrated restaurants such as The Fat Radish, on NewThe Orchard Townhouse, a cozy restaurant in Chelsea that’s soon to open a garden and six fully furnished long-stay rental apartments upstairs

Bright Orange turmeric root and powder on a green background.

Turmeric, a flowering plant that’s part of the ginger family (and similarly harvested for its roots), is having its momeNYT Cooking’s spiced chickpea stew—so popular it’s simply referred to as #TheStew—by cookbook author and columnist Alison Roman, whose flavorful and simple recipes often go viral and are known to spike the sales of certain ingredients.

A bottle of Westwind Orchard maple syrup.

Eighteen years ago, Italian-born Fabio Chizzola traded fashion photography for farming, when he purchased an heirloom apWestwind Orchard year-round. While summer and fall are easily his busiest seasons, with spring spent preparing for both, Chizzola tells

A woman walking in a field surrounded by palm trees.

Holiday heart is a real thing, and as you ease back into work this coming week, you may consider jump-starting the decadClean program, founded by Dr. Alejandro Junger, an adrenal fatigue expert and the author of new book Clean 7, whose work has garnered A-list devotees in everyone from Demi Moore to Naomi Campbell. Gwyneth Paltrow, another die-hard3-day mini cleanse (which recently launched and comes with far fewer demands that make it feasible to incorporate into a long weekend). Th

A bottle of Jus Jus next to a pear, purple grapes, and a white flower.

Artist, cookbook author, and chef Julia Sherman has had her fair share of memorable meals—her popular blog, Salad For President, posts photographs and recipes of the many dishes she’s shared in the company of friends and fellow artists: jerk shrimdukkah with Joan Jonas, Gwenn Thomas, and Joana Avillez. But it was a happy accident that led to the idea of her latest projecJus Jus, a sparkling alcoholic beverage made from verjus, a tart juice pressed from unripe grapes that’s typically used as a vinegary note in salads and marinades. Sherman had

A chocolate bar with a green leaf inside.

Rafael Prieto, creative director of the New York City– and Mexico City–based studio Savvy, and the founder of Casa Bosques and Casa Bosques Chocolates, tells us about hoja santa, the special aromatic herb found in his latest concoction.

Three monolithic bread loaves on a yellow tablecloth.

An artist, home cook, and self-professed “recovering academic” with a Ph.D. in architectural history, Esther Choi tells Le Corbuffet: Edible Art & Design Classics (Prestel), a punny collection of inspired dishes that critically question taste, consumption, and the canon—and very mu