Eleonora Cozzella, an enogastronomic journalist and editor of the Food&Wine site of L’Espresso, paid a visit to our students of the Global MBA Food and Wine to share the experiences and point of view regarding this industry, gathered throughout her career.
“Dealing with enograstronomy means you are going to touch the emotional chords in anyone’s life: food involves memory, feelings, even religion. It’s a very intimate matter, which should be approached with a great passion”.
Eleonora Cozzella is editor of the Food&Wine section of L’Espresso (one of the most important Italian Magazines). She writes articles, follows major conferences to understand the worldwide food trends; visits to the best restaurants in Italy and Europe to identify or confirm the excellence and finds new talents. She is also a member of the Italian jury of The World ‘s 50 Best Restaurants Award, among other 35 chefs, journalists, foodies, and gourmands. With her, we talked about an increasingly important sector both in the economic and socio-cultural terms.
Very often in Italian restaurants the chefs are found to be also real manager. Do you believe it might be useful to have two distinct figures?
I think so, because, for what is my experience in Italy, it is difficult to be both. I’ll explain. Alain Ducasse in France is a great chef, but is at the same time a great manager. This means knowing how to entrust the management of each of its premises to a trusted chef , create a real school, form a team that leaves its mark around the world, the stamp, the signature of Ducasse. This has not happened in Italy because we are still bound to an old type of restaurant management. So if you go to a restaurant we remain disappointed if you do not find the chef in the kitchen. In fact, if a chef is also a great manager he can leave the kitchen in to its right arm and go around the world, as Ducasse does, as well as Joël Robuchon, Yoshihiro Narisawa in Japan and Gaston Acurio in Peru.
You have been able to observe closely how top quality Italian and international restaurants are managed. What are the differences and similarities?
In Italy there is precisely the role of chef -manager , the chef – entrepreneur. It can be a great talent in the kitchen and then be unable to follow the business sector, the marketing of the company. Then, when the situation is not ideal, it is better to rely on a manager. Very often there is a PR, but he does different things.
What advice would he give to a student who attends the Global MBA Food and Wine?
The advice is to follow this path only if you have an absolute vocation for food & wine. Even before the managerial side, a great passion must prevail for everything. People want to be told a story, even the best food will be even better if anyone can explain who is behind the food, because it has an added value. Even the marketing in this area should not be cold. Dealing with food and wine means, in fact, going to touch the emotional chords in anyone’s life: food involves memory, feelings, even religion. As it is a truly intimate matter, it is approached with a great passion.
Davide Oldani recently gave a lecture at BBS. He said he believes strongly in the MBA, but added that to work in this industry a lot of humility is needed. He means something very concrete: to go and work as a waiter, to dig the earth, go to get to know the territories.
I agree. When you’re passionate about something, you have to know it in every detail. So you own it, not only in the sense that you know how to explain it, but you’ve lived it with your own skin. This is a very important aspect, as it would be helpful for the food critics to have an experience, if not in the kitchen, at least on the service side, so that we understand the difficulties of those who are on the other side of the fence. This is something you cannot learn only by attending a course. I can not imagine a manager in charge of Food & Wine that does not like to eat or drink, that has no pleasure in what he has to do in life . This is one of those areas where work and pleasure must match.
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