At the end of the military service (May 1997) I have been proposed to stay in the Navy for three more years, I had also the “pleasure” to go in front of the judge in the martial court, because of a “little scratch” with a bloody sergeant (honestly in that day Lady Luck was definitely on my side...) so I decided on a more healthy return to my old life and, thanks again to my mentor (Chef Giuliano), I got a job for the coming summer season at Green Park Lagomare in Torre del Lago Puccini, e beautiful resort on the sea owned by Mr. Oriano the most famous supplier for hoteliers in the all area and also one of the biggest ass hole I ever met in my life.
The good point of the seasonal jobs is that, after you finish and the business shut the doors, you are free, you can have rest and you can forget all the negative aspects you are gone through in the last few months, so sometimes it happens that you go back next year, or sometimes you have to find another job.
Mentioning again the military service, It was, in those years, a real “vacant position maker machine”, so, as many of my school mates and for the same bloody reason, I have been replaced and I have replaced as well, that’s, why in the winter 1997-98 I joined the kitchen team at “Ristorante Sergio” in Pisa, awarded with one Michelin Star. I had a very performing experience with Sergio, owner and Chef Patron, and over all with Chef Roberto Carani, a great man indeed, he’s now in Singapore.
A job in a starred kitchen is a “must do” experience, but, normally, you don’t pay your bills, my salary at “Sergio” war lower than the one paid to the previous cook in my position, my performance was much better (as Chef Roberto told me), so I felt very underestimated or a kind of “classs B” worker. I moved back in Forte dei Marmi just in time to find another seasonal job at “Hotel Atlantico” where the owners, Mr. And Mrs. Bandinelli, helped me to find back myself in their very good environment.
Just a note: this hotel was open seasonally with top class guests, but a very special Lady used to stay there all year round. We use to call her “The Princess”, because she was a princess, and also she was relative of the royal families in half Europe, rarely I found back a so polite person, always appreciating my job, always telling a good word and very, very generous... That summer season 1998 was very long (8 months) and I arrived in the end totally exhausted, but in November my mentor (yes, Chef Giuliano again!) sent me to work in Abetone, a tiny place on the Tuscan mountains, famous for its ski slopes and where the restaurant “La Capannina” was waiting for a new Head Chef.
I was very scared indeed, because I had held always positions as chef de partie especially in the pasta section which is the most difficult, so I expressed to Chef Giuliano the doubts of a 21 years old cook regarding this challenge, the reply was: “I’m not asking you to go, I’m telling you to move your ass and boost your career!!!”.
I DID IT.
I have been employed two years at “La Capannina”, the menu was rustic based on goods available in the Tuscan mountains, but performed as a fine dining in a major city. The wine list, with more than 300 labels and more than 90 kinds of grappas, wase an extra value as well. The quotations of the restaurant on the guides (all of them) went up and up and also my reputation gained points and points, and, being crazy (as I am today), after a call with my mentor (yes, the same one...) I got a very good offer to move in Prato, a wealthy town close to Florence, to run the kitchen of “Ristorante Sassodoro”. This place was really nice and modern, ideal to work in, but something was changing and a very dangerous “cocktail” of ideas was mixing in a mad shaker... my mind.
To be continued...