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05-09-2022

Erica Parrino, a Sicilian in Copenhagen: «Here is why Amass is much more than a restaurant»

The 30-year-old assistant manager at Matt Orlando’s restaurant says: «Working here is priceless because we pay attention to the entire lifecycle of every ingredient. And we use a lemon once, twice, three and even four times»

Amass, restaurant with vegetable garden (photo fa

Amass, restaurant with vegetable garden (photo facebook/amass)

When Gabriele asked me to tell about Amass from my point of view, I immediately thought there are different ways to represent this place. Not just a place, perhaps it would be better to call it a concept, or better still, a lifestyle.

I had never been very interested in Amass before moving to Copenaghen. I had of course heard about it, but I would have never imagined that such a strong principle of innovative catering could exist. Believe when I say that this style of inclusiveness and culinary perspective could be taken as a model, and that each single molecule and small atom at Amass represents contemporary avantgarde.

It could sound as an insult to other institutions, or perhaps as too egocentric but, in my opinion, I believe it’s interesting to examine what some people (many people in fact) cannot see. The capacity of seeing beyond being a team, and a unique idea that works together and transmits only one sound: because when the machine starts every morning, and every part starts to work, everything automatically fits its place. And, of course, almost in every restaurant around the world everything works more or less in the same way, but for us I think this is slightly, and at the same time extremely, different. (Because when we work, we work for two teams.)

Back and front of house are like pieces of an organic puzzle, varied and complex but also functional and incredibly psychedelic. I don’t pretend to make comparisons, but I think our work, and what Matt Orlando has created over the years, is something extremely varied and fluid, structurally intricated but amiable and hallucinogenic. Farsightedness and fatigue are strongpoints of the restaurant, which once again I wouldn’t like to call just a “restaurant”.

Since day one at Amass I’ve told myself that my life was about to change, both from a mental point of view, and of attitude. A new nuance that I knew would be added to my way of seeing things. Perhaps what I prefer the most of Amass is this: the way in which, by simply taking part in a small revolution we can all feel part of the revolution itself. No big words but a proven reality, because Amass is, has been and will continue to be a revolution, and each small action in the world can be considered as part of an evolutionary change.

Amass, ristorante con orto (foto facebook/amass)

Amass, ristorante con orto (foto facebook/amass)

The dining room (photo facebook/amass)

The dining room (photo facebook/amass)

The research of why and how each ingredient should be exploited or enhanced, of how, by inverting processes and working with fermentation a lemon can be used once, twice, three and up to four times. Of how a simple discarded ingredient, when combined with others, can become a sort of incredible culinary experience and then be used for cooking, and reused to create dishes.

It's never boring because everyone has their job to do, and everyone represents a specific role. And everyone feels responsible for their correct attitude. And the fact of being held responsible is perhaps one of the greatest lucks of working for and at Amass. Each one of us is an important component and, without doubt, this is also the great message of ethical sustainability that our team preserves each day.

Perhaps, but I’d like to stress perhaps, my idea is a little platonic, but when I tell about life at Amass, I truly feel I’m part of a sect, in a good sense. A larger family, a concept of joined and unified work, but also of training and of satisfaction for all that is completed and exhausted inside the restaurant. Every day I work hard to follow a routine and be completely committed to the place but at the same time to what I can give and offer to those around me. And vice versa, of course. The constant attention to every minimal but important detail of the lifecycle, whether it is the water that must not be wasted, the coffee that is reused or the labels we use again and again, or even the compost we make or the use of paper which we try to reduce to a minimum, not to mention plastic, whose use is basically reduced to zero.

I started around one year ago as section-waitress: working in the dining room with my colleagues, I grew together with the team and now I have a more polyhedric role, from the office, where I’m in charge of bookings, to the dining room where I help and lead the front of house. Ideally, every living single space should work in the same way or at least everyone should have the same farsightedness to understand how much more fun and creative it could be to work with less, but with more effective results. Being extremists implies laudable efforts, and I know this well, but since when a restaurant is not a representation of an extreme?!

Earlier I was talking of contemporary avantgarde because we’re not talking of molecular cuisine or of new production processes, but it’s something more connected with the normal daily life and approach to life. A vision which we should all try to reach, and towards which every culinary entity should direct itself. Culinary culture represents a fundamental link for the positive evolution of the world, and for greater sustainability and personal responsibility.

The use of fish, and of sustainable fishing instead of meat, as well as that of vegetables only when local and in season, sometimes from our own vegetable garden, the extreme use of each stem or the concept of circularity within each process makes the catering experience highly structured and complex. The act itself of cooking is not just about preparing a dish, which should above all be pleasing, but also and above all about respecting and, as pointed out by Amass, representing a specific notion, a definite design. Different elements make Amass and different elements encircle Amass giving the restaurant an aura that goes far beyond the status of restaurant.

The full team at Amass. Second from the right, Erica Parrino. In the middle, chef and patron Matt Orlando

The full team at Amass. Second from the right, Erica Parrino. In the middle, chef and patron Matt Orlando

Californian chef Matt Orlando. He opened Amass in 2013. He also owns wine bar AFC (photo Brambilla/Serrani)

Californian chef Matt Orlando. He opened Amass in 2013. He also owns wine bar AFC (photo Brambilla/Serrani)

I will soon be part of the new managerial generation at Amass and I cannot wait to carry out my projects and intentions that can bring our workplace to take a step further above the top. Many short-term changes will influence the dynamics inside the front of house, which is why I will be the new assistant managerIt’s thrilling to have such a role at Amass, especially in a moment of evolution influenced by the post-pandemic.

Pluralism inside the restaurant is for us a synonym of excellence. Therefore, with my team we will create new dynamics, improved and advanced, and we hope more eccentric and accurate. I was lucky to meet, during my still short time at Amass a special staff with huge talent and so with the new restaurant manager Matilda Johansson we will have the chance to improve the standards aiming for professional but also ethical and responsible goals.

Sky-high hype, excitement and a strong desire to work hard during our new season. Now all there is to do is remain in tune and use every single tool to create the best version of the restaurant of the future. Different, creative, simple and essential. To make all this possible, I think it’s crucial to believe in information which is culture: food is love and the combination of these two elements represents what I believe is the best version of catering.


In sala

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

by

Erica Parrino

Born in Ragusa in 1992, raised in Sicily, she soon left home to attend university and follow her passions. She moved from Rome to Milan, travelled around the world, and in 2021 joined the dining room team at Amass a Copenhagen, and became assistant manager one year later. She’s driven by the (re)discovery of an eternal love for food, art as a sole creed and a famished vision of life

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