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Restaurateur Sirio Maccioni's success story

Restaurateur Sirio Maccioni shares his secrets of running legendary restaurants.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2011 01:16 IST
Hindustan Times

Restaurateur Sirio Maccioni shares his secrets of running legendary restaurants.

His is a story that could inspire a thousand Bollywood potboilers — a poor village lad spends his childhood in deprivation, finds a job in a ship (Home Lines SS Atlantic) as a waiter, and crosses the Atlantic serving people.

The boy achieves unbelievable success, and couple of decades later finds himself Crossing The Pond again, this time as a first class passenger aboard the Italian Line’s SS Giulio Cesare!

The legendary restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, the founder one of the world’s most famous French restaurant Le Cirque, recently visited his restaurant’s maiden Indian venture, Le Cirque at the Leela Palace Hotel.

The humble and unprentious Macconi says, what drew him to the food business was desperation and not inspiration."I grew up as a poor child in Italy. As much I love food, I am a hard worker and this combination works very well for the restaurant business," he says, looking dapper in a Stefano Ricci suit.

Apart from his celebrated restaurants, it’s perhaps also the octogenarian’s sense of humour that helped him befriend celebrities including singer-actor late Frank Sinatra, former first lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan, and former model Ivana Trump.

Ask him to share the most memorable incident of life and he tells you a story as interesting as his life.

“Once when I was working in Paris, I was standing beside a tray that had twenty-two quails. Suddenly one of the quails fell off the tray on the floor and my instinct prompted me to pick it up and quickly eat it. And then I returned to the kitchen and told the chef that he had made only 21 quails!”

So, who’s been the toughest guest to handle at his celebrated French restaurant that has been entertaining New York City’s high society?

“I have to say that my most difficult guest is my youngest son Mauro who always had the chef prepare a hamburger for him.”

Maccioni also fondly remembers the late American painter-filmmaker Andy Warhol, who was a regular at his restaurant.

“Warhol was my most intriguing guest. He would always draw on napkins,” he recalls.

Maccioni says the recipe of turning a restaurant into a success is quite simple.

“A restaurant’s success is the combination of hard work, a talented group of working individuals, some good luck, humility and good service. The customer is the king, so always treat him like a king.”

Maccioni tried Indian cuisine on his visit and says he is absolutely in love with it. Among his other plans in India included a visit to Taj Mahal, Mumbai and Udaipur. “I have also got a suit tailored in India,” says Maccioni, who loves to cook Italian food at home.

“I love cooking and my favourite dish is Rabbits Cacciatore,” he shares.

First Published: Dec 09, 2011 18:31 IST