Perseverance is the secret to Claudio Passatori’s (1986, Puglia, Italy) successful career. He has spent over half his life in the kitchen and, according to him, “it was destiny” that drew him away from the stove. Today he is the general manager of ChezzGerdi, a flagship for leisure and dining in Formentera.
What is Claudio like inside and outside ChezzGerdi?
I’m the same person. I think I’m a normal guy who likes the catering industry.
How would you define your personality?
I’m ironic, serious and... Normal.
It was by chance; I was meant to go somewhere else and a series of coincidences led me to Formentera. When I was offered the job I didn’t even know where Formentera was but, in the end, I decided to come for a season... And now I’ve been here for 11 years. Since 2009, when I came for the opening of ChezzGerdi.
How did you start out in the catering industry?
I started at hotel and catering school in Italy. I had my first job at 14, washing dishes. I’m a chef because I trained to be one and I have the heart of a chef. But, over time, I left the kitchen. It was destiny.
Did you dream about doing this when you were small?
Yes, since I was 12 years old. I’ve always liked it and I like it more every day.
"I’ve always liked it and I like it more every day"
Why do you think they trusted you to take charge of ChezzGerdi?
Because of my attitude and because I give 100% to all my projects. It wasn’t easy. I risked a lot because I had to leave a good job to become manager of ChezzGerdi. I think I’m incredibly determined. That’s always been the most important thing for me.
How did the ChezzGerdi project get started?
The project started in 2009. It was created in Italy by a group of Italian and Catalan businessmen who wanted to rescue this place, which had been taken over by squatters. The idea was to create a kind of Blue Marlin in Formentera but over time we’ve focused more on the restaurant side than the music because the music scene is more limited in Formentera than it is in Ibiza.
How would you define the cooking and service at ChezzGerdi?
The name ChezzGerdi came from a fusion of hippy and chic. Our service is the same. We don’t have a service protocol like at a hotel. We’re a professional, young, polite team... And what you can’t achieve with professionalism and politeness, you can achieve with friendliness. In terms of the cooking, we have excellence produce and the menu mixes various cuisines: Mediterranean, Japanese, South American, etc. I think that anyone who comes will find a dish that they like. We have an outstanding kitchen.
“We’re a professional, young, polite team... And what you can’t achieve with professionalism and politeness, you can achieve with friendliness”
How many people are on the ChezzGerdi team?
We’re around 70 people. I’m one of the oldest members and I’m 34. The average age is 25 years old. That means that everyone gets on well and there’s a great work atmosphere. I think that the ChezzGerdi team is professional, friendly and kind, and that’s what our clients like best. Most employees have been part of the ChezzGerdi family for years.
How do you manage such a large team?
The team is the most important thing for me because it’s what sets us apart. I believe in a pyramid management style: one person can’t manage a project like this alone. It’s essential to have a strong structure to support you. That’s why I believe the work of the area heads and managers is essential.
What’s more important to you: the kitchen or the dining room?
That’s been a battle my entire life. When I was a chef, I thought that the kitchen was more important. Now I think that both are equally important. One is nothing without the other. They have to be in perfect symbiosis. It’s important to find a balance between the two.
What are your main professional challenges?
I’m one of those people who, when they find something they like, they don’t change. At the moment I want ChezzGerdi to go well. I don’t have any other projects outside of ChezzGerdi.
What do ChezzGerdi clients most appreciate?
Our clients come back for the professionalism, the quality and because they feel at home. ChezzGerdi is an all-terrain restaurant: here anything goes, you can come and eat pizza or, if you want to eat lobster, you can do that too. You can come for a coffee, a drink, a formal or casual dinner... We also host weddings and events. We offer a comprehensive service that even includes collecting clients from their boats or taking food to their boats, if they want. But we always prefer them to come here because the experience of being here includes many factors that go far beyond how good the food is. We’re also lucky to welcome all kinds of people: islanders, tourists and people from Ibiza.