Marziano Palli is the managing director of Adriatico. He started as a cook. Then, he began working as a chef before becoming a joint owner of the restaurant, which led to his career as a restauranteur. Palli bought his first restaurant 23 years ago on Jan. 1, 1980, when he was 23, using money that he saved from working on cruise ships for seven years. In 1993, he was invited to work in Russia. He decided to stay in Russia because "its so unpredictable, so stormy here; there are a lot of opportunities, and the people are interesting."
How did an Italian go from cooking to restaurant management?
In Italy everyone has to go to school for 15 years. Then its up to you whether to go to college or not. I grew up in a very big family three brothers and five sisters and none of us had higher education, but six of us succeeded in business. At first, I wanted to become a flight attendant and work on planes. But my sister, who was a chef, suggested that I become a chef too, and, since that day, I have never regretted my choice. In 1972, I left Italy onboard a cruise ship and went to the United States. I was 16 then and spoke no English. When I returned to Italy, I had had a lot of experience in the field and bought my own restaurant. It seemed to me that I had come from another world I knew things no one else did.
Whats your key to success?
I can work anywhere and with anyone, because I know how to optimize things in the workplace. I have all the necessary experience which is a rare thing. When I worked on cruise ships, there were over 120 chefs and other staff in the kitchen. Working under these kinds of conditions taught me a lot. The trick is to learn from your mistakes. When I first started working on a cruise ship, my duty was to cut tomatoes for salads. We had to prepare about 1,800 portions a day, so I had to cut at least 1,800 tomatoes. I always had a clock before my eyes, and I tried to work as fast as I could, because if I can save a minute or two on one tomato, it will save me a great deal of time if I have to cut 1,800! I was very proud and happy when I managed to do my job fast without losing quality, because it is a very important. Every little movement influences the final results of your work. If youre focused and you know how to optimize your working process so that you work fast without losing quality, then youve achieved some success. The key to success is when youre confident about what you do.
What do you think of your clients?
You should know how to make each client think hes the most important person in the restaurant. You should never be impudent and cheeky you should be professional. When I cook something over an open flame, people stop eating and watch me. After Im done, I modestly leave, because the clients should be sure that everything made in our restaurant is of the same highly professional level. Clients are comfortable when they know that a professional who is trustworthy is serving them. Plus you have to have the psychological skills to foresee clients desires.
Is there a place for anything in your life apart from your family and business?
When Im in Moscow, I cant think about anything but my work. I like to relax in Italy. I like to fly on planes because I have time to concentrate and think about new projects. The most pleasant thing for me is to generate new projects and watch them come to life. As far as hobbies, I like sports cars, horseback riding and skiing. I bought my first Ferrari in 1982 on Feb. 26. It was a great day.