Andrea Aftab Pauro, just in his early 30s, has already hit the list of one of the top restaurateurs here with his popular Italian food chain of Amici cafés. His natty, dapper looks and affable manner make him look much younger, one could mistake him to be a student. But when you talk to him, his knowledge and wit mirror the reasons for his success.
The first Italian restaurant Pauro set up here was Baci in Delhi’s Sunder Nagar market frequented by the rich, both Indian and foreigners. Baci in Italian means kisses, says Pauro. “I opened Baci in 2006. It was the year my daughter was born and it felt great,” he adds. Then there was no looking back and in 2008 he opened Amici Café in Khan Market. Later, more outlets were opened including the Amici Pronto, Amici Gourmet Pizza in Ambience Mall at Vasant Kunj followed by Amici Café in Defence Colony. Pauro plans to expand his Italian food chain to have a café in Gurgaon and later in Mumbai.
Pauro’s passion for food and hospitality started in his teens. His father is an Italian and mother from a reputable family of Punjab. Pauro was born in Padova in Italy but did his schooling in India. Hospitality was probably in the genes. His mother’s family owns the Imperial Hotel in Delhi.
“I was interested in hospitality and architecture also since my student days. After school I did a three-year hospitality course at Denver University, Colarado, in the US and later joined the four-year course at the Hotel Institute Montreux in Switzerland. Here one learnt all the aspects of managing a hotel. But for me it was a bit disappointing as the course was for those who wanted to work in hotels, not for those who wanted to develop hotels,” Pauro says.
The road from academics to passion in the business blossomed soon when he settled down in Delhi.“Yes there were places where Italian food was available, but then it’s all a matter of perception and I wanted to do it my way, the Italian way. I feel it is important to put in one’s best. I am not here to convince and persuade people what I sell is good so that they be my customer. I work hard and put in my best effort, people come to my café and like the food. They are happy and I am happy,” he says.
Pauro feels that there are two kinds of people: One who follow the trodden path and the other who are curious to question the existing state and pioneer new avenues. It’s the latter who are inventors and he says he belongs to that category. A contention that is apparent in his cafés be it the fact that they make pizzas in the wood-fired oven as is done in most places in Italy or the wide range of Italian dishes in which, as stated by him, the best ingredients are used. The choice of names of the dishes served in the cafes is interesting like the Starving Celebrity pizza and The Chicken Has Landed.
The biggest challenge he faced was the fact that he was not ready to consider what he wanted to do in his life till he was 24 years old. But once he knew, he was determined to follow it wholeheartedly. It is important that youngsters should have complete freedom to decide what they want to do or be in their life, he says. And what they choose to do, they should do with sincere passion. Then they will do well and succeed, says Pauro.
Apart from his first love for hospitality, Pauro’s interests are physics, cosmology and philosophy. He says he spends a lot of time reading on these subjects. “I would like to go back to academics and study physics more deeply.”
Yes there were places where Italian food was available, but then it’s all a matter of perception and I wanted to do it my way, the Italian way -- Andrea Aftab Pauro