Vito Mollica: “The waiter is not just the technical sheet of a dish”

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The chef of “Il Palagio” restaurant at the Four Seasons in Florence believes that the kitchen-dining room team is an indissoluble bond

Hospitality is the key word that lies at the base of Vito Mollica’s concept of catering, the chef of the Michelin starred restaurant “Il Palagio” at the Four Seasons hotel in Florence. “A restaurant – he says – is not just a place where people eat or are served, but a space where hospitality reigns. This happens only if everyone fulfils their own tasks”. He wants to create a convivial environment, a place where to return to “know thyself”, where customers are the protagonists. This is possible only if there is a strong synergy between the dining room and the kitchen. Customers would immediately perceive a discrepancy between these two worlds.

“The richness of a restaurant lies in the harmony of both teams: one in the kitchen that produces, and the other among the tables that tells the product. They are essential elements that must become one. It is necessary then that the chef is also in the dining room and the waiters know the kitchen. Everyone must feel part of the work of the other”. There should be a tight bond among all the collaborators, and the customers should also feel part of it.

Therefore, the staff role in the dining room isn’t just about being the technical sheet of the dishes, but also to participate during the creation and development of the recipe. The relationship isn’t exclusively between the chef and the customer: “everyone has a palate and can participate in the preparation of a dish, and then the chef must be able to reconnect the advice. For this reason, it is very important to talk about processing, not creation: a dish is never finished, but always evolving”.

Nevertheless, everyone can still enjoy it according to his or her own taste.

It is believed that one of the waiter’s tasks is to explain how to taste a dish, but this would limit the innate sense of freedom of food. “When indications are given, the customer is encouraged to dwell on certain aspects, not allowing to perceive the totality of flavours. You would never ask to a painting viewer to focus attention on technique only, because he would just focus on one detail, losing the opportunity to see true beauty”.

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