Pure… simple… fresh, to the roots of cuisine for a unique taste of Quality
Everything has a beginning, and every beginning its reasons. But when do we start telling a story? Is there a specific time lap? Or is it when we believe we reached the end?
I say it is important to at least sit and mind-rewind once journey whenever there is a remarkable change. Because every change promises a new one to come. So I believe telling an adventure is in a way a reminder of what has past but also a preparation for the next step.
This is the story of Antica, a restaurant business on the verge to receive a star for its leadership quality in the restauration field.
It all started with a simple travel experience. My parents went to South Africa in 1999 as my father needed serious medical attention. There, they were welcomed in a guest house by a certain John Ohanna.
During their stay they realized that the owner is an artist before being a businessman. Therefore my mother asked him to point her to the right books and art tools to bring home to her son as I was a big art lover and already started art school at that time. So the next day my parents met John in the early morning, they then discovered another side of him as he was cooking breakfast for the whole guesthouse. I hear that’s when the idea of a restaurant sprout in my mother head.
My mom loves cooking and is pretty damn good at it. She even cooked for her own wedding before changing into gown. Coming back from that trip, she, aside to my art manuals, brought back several cooking books most of them based on European and especially Italian cuisine. A year later she traveled to Italy to meet old accountancies and try to find more inspiration to good and simple food. With a help of a friend, her own researches and family support she gathered the necessary information and specialized workmen to build a brick oven.
But a restaurant needed more investment than that, and when you’re fresh to the business the total amount can scare you fast. I remember one that almost caused a gathered family heart attack: interior decoration. We met several architects, and designers for this specific task until we slowly shifted to the idea ‘’what if we do it ourselves’’.
As a culinary & management student, now, I would definitely root against such risk. Though as a 15 year old teenager and art lover such incident seemed like the perfect occasion to express my creativity and expose my art pieces to the world. With my family encouragement and help I designed Anticas’ first chairs and tables. We then used a specific motif that reminded the chairs’ spirit to build the first bar.
Throughout the years I’ve painted, carved, designed, played with, ate at, and even injured myself several times to help bring knowingly & unknowingly Anticas’ guest areas to what they are today. I hope this won’t sound like I’m singing my own praises as the purpose of this story is to make the reader or listener understand that Antica is not just a business but also the story of a familys’ passion. A passion for sharing, a passion for Art and mostly a prayer for success through work.
It is said that the biggest challenge for any business is for it not to waver the first 3 years. But when it comes to hotel & restauration everyday is crucial. If I was to be asked, I would say, as an Artist, that a restaurant, a good one at that, is more home to Art than a museum. What is Art you might wonder, is it just a painting, a sculpture or a poem?
So I ask could it be also a simple welcoming sentence or a smile by the door? (Art of receiving) Could it be a quick attention given to a customers’ need? What if it’s a chefs’ cooking gestural or the performance of a waiter with three dishes on his arm and hands? Could it also be a napkin fold, the setting of forks, knives, glasses and plates?
I believe Art is everywhere; we just don’t pay attention to it all the time. Antica restaurant for the past ten years has dedicated its work in finding harmony in the service, the food quality and the decoration so that, through comfort, each customer can experience and feel Art in its un-ending forms.
Such standard is not easy to keep and the reason this still holds is because of my family and especially my mother constant leadership. Our goal is pure, making every customer happy with each experience in our restaurants. We constantly pursue a simple smile, we hear laughs on lucky days and on great days we catch the look of a child, next to the oven, waiting for his/her pizza (usually margarita) to come out. Today Antica is celebrating a big change: recognition of its leadership by BID (Business Initiative Directions) based in Madrid. Our company is proud to receive in the upcoming June 25th a Gold star, an award for leadership quality. My mothers’ hard work has inspired me to follow in her footsteps. I am currently studying culinary Art and management at the Paul Bocuse Institute, France. I hope that with my education I will help bring another major step to Antica in the following years. Now we want the Platinum Award because afterall anything is possible when we try hard enough.
By Yoganes G/Hailemariam
Chef de partie at St. Regis Hotels & Resorts