Liberty in the dining room

For Anna Sala, work is a committed choice in life

08-07-2014
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This "dining room" story makes us meet Anna, today at work among the tables of restaurant Il Liberty in Milan, tel. +39.02.29011439, with a long experience at Peck and before then in some restaurants in her native Brianza. Working in a restaurant has always been an objective for her, a way of becoming accomplished: and this is what happened

While I was beginning to write this article, I realised that in two days’ time I will turn 35. The next thought was that it’s been exactly twenty-one years since I started doing this job! Going through the phases in this journey, I believe I have chosen to attend catering school because this choice gave me a sense of freedom.

I was convinced that in doing so I could be surrounded by people and I could build something right away instead of “wasting time” studying subjects I didn’t like nor were interested in. What I like and am interested in, instead, is speaking, seeing and being able to confront myself with new people. What better place to do all this than in a restaurant?

My wish to stay in the dining room was different from the majority of students at school. In fact when I attended catering school the percentage of people who chose the kitchen was already quite high while there were rather few people who had my same idea. Besides, when I had my first interview upon enrolling, they told me that out of ten students who chose to work in the dining room, nine dropped out in a short time.

I was fascinated by this and still am today: I’m motivated by the idea of succeeding in something that not everyone wants or can do. I liked and still like the feeling of being someone, of being different from the others and not just a number.

Anna Sala with Andrea Provenzani, chef at Il Liberty. Before starting to work there, Anna was a loyal customer

Anna Sala with Andrea Provenzani, chef at Il Liberty. Before starting to work there, Anna was a loyal customer

I began to work in a trattoria near home, where there were many guests and very low quality. I didn’t like this much, it didn’t give me any satisfaction: this is why I tried to leave Brianza as soon as possible. And trust me, it is not a stereotype: in Brianza, to this day, there’s still a tradition of eating lots and eating bad...

After acquiring my first experience, a series of coincidences led me to a restaurant in Mezzago, which unfortunately does not exist any longer, and was called La Locanda degli Archinti. The restaurant only seated thirty people and admitted only one word: quality. At last I had found what I was looking for. Unfortunately due to some fights between the two owners, husband and wife, the restaurant has closed.

At the time I had the habit of going to Peck for an aperitif every Monday, when La Locanda was closed: so I got inspired and tried to ask if by any chance they were looking for a sommelier. I still remember my interview with Mario Stoppani with a smile. When I arrived in his office he looked at me and without even looking at my curriculum he asked: «Do you fancy to work?». I answered yes, of course, and he simply said: «Fine, I’m hiring you, starting tomorrow!».

One of the dishes in Il Liberty’s menu

One of the dishes in Il Liberty’s menu

Eight long years of professional and personal life thus began, eight years that have allowed me to learn all that I now know on wine and much more. It is hard to describe my experience at Peck in any other way because it is not any ordinary workplace. It is Peck, that’s it.

After this beautiful period I moved for one year to London and then spent nine months in Bermuda, and then returned to Milan, where I had some less happy experience in some corporations until I finally arrived at Il Liberty. I’ve known Andrea Provenzani for twelve years now, years during which I’ve been a loyal customer at this restaurant which I now feel my own.

Here there is all I’ve always wished for: quality in the kitchen, harmony between people, an extraordinary chef and a work environment that I would not change for anything in the world. Today I can say I was right, I took the right decision at the time. I like to be in the dining room because this way, every day I meet different people and I face a new challenge.

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