Vincenzo Donatiello, born in ’85, originally from Vulture in Basilicata, began to alternate his hotel studies with his first experiences in the dining room at the age of 17, where his passion for wine grew. But the turning point came in 2004 when he became Italy’s Best Junior Sommelier, the first of many awards he has received to date. Character of the Year 2013 for Italia a Tavola, Best Room Manager for the Touring Guide 2016 and Maître of the Year for the Guida L’Espresso 2018, just to name a few. His adventure in the world of haute cuisine began in 2009 at La Frasca in Milano Marittima, then at Pascucci at the Porticciolo di Fiumicino and Il Platino di Pennabili, up to the three-starred Piazza Duomo in Alba in 2013, where today he directs not only the room, but also a cellar that has over 1800 labels.Vincenzo is undoubtedly one of the most famous figures in the world of sommellierie in Italy. And he will be one of the speakers of the Master So Wine So Food, where he will share his great experience and knowledge in a course dedicated to etiquette. We asked Vincenzo to tell us about the path that led him to become the dining room manager of one of the best restaurants in the world and some advice for future food and wine critics.
What will the course you give at the Master So Wine So Food be about?
“I will talk about etiquette, but not in the classic sense of the term but, rather, about how etiquette and the rules of service, hospitality, knowing how to stay in the world can and must adapt to the times and the evolution of the world. Etiquette is something that we not only use when we are guests or host but are all those rules of respect and good taste that should not be missing in the life of each of us “.
How important is etiquette in the industry?
“It is essential to know the rules of etiquette but it is equally important to know how to adapt these rules to the place we are in, to the situation we are living in. In short, not to be subjugated by the rigidity of these rules but to know how to play with them, make them malleable, dynamic , current “.
What was the path that led you to become the restaurant manager of one of the best restaurants in the world?
“I started at a very young age to alternate hotel studies with my first experiences in the dining room, especially in hotels on the Romagna Riviera, a real and great welcome gym. The first work experiences were then accompanied by the first competitions and so in 2004 I became Best Sommelier Junior of Italy. The following years were of travel and different experiences until arriving in 2009 in what is possible to define gastronomic catering: first in La Frasca, Pascucci al Porticciolo and Il piastrino then, up to Piazza Duomo in 2013 . I was not immediately at the helm of the service because I worked for two years as a sommelier. Today I have also condensed these 20 years of work in what I believe can be considered the first motivational book on the work of the room: Io Servo – Modern Dictionary for Waiters.
I think the ingredients for a path like mine are curiosity, a very strong will, perseverance and love for hospitality “.
Did you have any mentors who guided you on your journey?
“Absolutely yes, among my mentors I mention Gianfranco Bolognesi, Roberto Gardini and Gabriele Casadio who were fundamental guides when I arrived in La Frasca. And then Roberto Giampreti, my first employer: I thought I wanted to be a cook but he directed me to the room and from then on I never left a room. “
What is the part that you like the most about your job as a restaurant manager at the prestigious Piazza Duomo restaurant in Alba?
“The discovery of everyday life: new guests, new needs, the situations that are created in a service. These are all elements that push me to do better every day. And in recent years I have been passionate about the possibility of training and guiding people who work. for me: I would never have imagined finding in myself this passion for training that exploded in recent years, leading me to many collaborations outside the restaurant “.
What do you think is missing in the world of wine communication?
“Very often there is a lack of modernity, there are too many interpreters of the wine world who do not run with the times and then the little cooperation typical of us Italians”.
What are the biggest challenges in our industry today?
“We will meet a sector that risks a huge downsizing over the next two to three years. The big challenge will be to be able to read the situations and moments of change just before they happen in order to be able to deal with them in a dynamic way, a bit like makes a man of the room in the heart of the service “.
What advice do you feel you give to future food and wine critics who would like to choose the Master?
“What I give to my children (colleagues and students): study, taste, travel. Without these three fundamental steps, you cannot think of facing a profession like this”.