Knowledge for training

The "perfect waiter" according to Enrico Camelio. A story on his career, from dining room to teaching

04-03-2015
Roman Enrico Camelio, born in 1971, with his guys

Roman Enrico Camelio, born in 1971, with his guys at Majestic. He’s a teacher at the Pellegrino Artusi Catering School in Rome and a fine dining consultant

Creating an extraordinary cocktail of warmth and empathy; following you without ending up as being invasive; making you laugh without exaggerating; getting inside your head, anticipating your needs almost before they are expressed. This may appear as the profile of the ideal partner. In fact, we’re talking about a waiter. A profession which often isn’t given the right value. To work in the best possible way, you need a comprehensive knowledge. Because this is what the dining room is, nothing else but the revelation of the creative process that takes place in the kitchen. When the match between dining room and kitchen is successful, the mix is sparkling. There’s no excellent waiter without a good kitchen, there’s no excellent kitchen without a good water. The balance is subtle, the departments must blend into each other.

In order to reach the simplicity of a successful service as the one mentioned above, one should start from high quality raw materials: and we’re not talking about food or drinks, we’re talking about human resources. When I started this job I was little over 16 and every time I think about the nice journey I’ve taken so far I almost can’t believe it. I like to say that it was “beautiful” and not “long”: after all, what does quantity matter if what surrounds you doesn’t make you shine?

My professional life is divided in many important moments. I attended catering school, became a barman and a professional sommelier, graduated in Tourism Economics: three different experiences that were all equal sources of knowledge. I then left for London: this allowed me to discover new restaurants on top of making me fluent in English, something essential, today, when working in the food & beverage sector. At 24 I was lucky enough to become part of the staff at La Pergola in Rome and then reached the peak in my operational career inside the hotel De Russie of the Rocco Forte Hotels.

Enrico Camelio, left, with the dining room staff at Spazio Roma, Niko Romito’s restaurant
Enrico Camelio, left, with the dining room staff at Spazio Roma, Niko Romito’s restaurant

Then one day, almost by chance, I started a career as a teacher. The first guys to whom I taught about the dining room/bar profession and about the world of wine are the same people who are now climbing the ladder in prestigious places, they work with Niko Romito, at Hotel de Russie, at La Pergola, at All’Oro, in the Jumeirah chain (Dubai and Mallorca), at Noma in Copenhagen, at the ex Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh, at Brown in London, down to Australia...

The spring that pushed me to this kind of commitment was the fact important companies were constantly requesting skilled workers. I met Antonello Colonna who gave me the energy to believe in this, and then it was the turn of the great Massimo Riccioli. This was followed by other meetings, up to the latest challenge: for months now I’ve been collaborating inside Eataly Roma with chef Niko Romito at Spazio Roma, where I run the dining room service. Niko and I have shared a very long experience, we’ve been collaborating for 15 years...

So today I’m a consultant at Niko Romito Formazione, I teach in Catering school, I’m working on a project/patent with no equals in the world for an oven that can cook on a plane, so that one can eat fresh food in first class. In the morning I have a show on the radio, called “Non solo cucina”. I’m super satisfied yet never contented: I’m always eager to grow, study, learn. Because growing is never only personal, it always affects others too.


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The public side of a restaurant seen by its protagonists: maître, restaurant managers, waiters