The General Manager of Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique, the Island’s most honoured restaurant, reveals what it takes to run a world-class gourmet destination
Q: How did you first come to be the General Manager at Mozaic?
Nicola: I’ve been in Bali for quite a long time, since 1996, and I’ve been working in hospitality ever since. My previous assignments were in Travel Agents, DMC and Hotels. When I was first contacted by Chris Salans (for whom I’d been doing some consultancy in the previous years) I thought it would be a great new challenge.
Q: What are your main responsibilities?
Nicola: Making sure that all of our operations run smoothly in order to provide our guests with the best possible experience. Obviously I do not enter the kitchen, that’s the chef’s kingdom!! But from the management of human resources to accounting to sales to operations, everything passes through me. One of my main tasks is also taking care of Marketing and the organisation of the frequent special events (guest chefs, wine dinners, parties) that we have in Ubud but also sometimes help to organise events in our new venue in Seminyak, Mozaic Beachclub. The GM is also often the “face” of the restaurant at official events, so the public relations side is also very important.
Q: What is the toughest part of your job? And what is the most rewarding?
Nicola: We work in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural environment, lots of Indonesians (from different islands, with different cultural identities) and several expats from different continents. Every one of us has a different approach to life, work, family etc, and as a GM you have to manage everyone in a different way. It’s very difficult not to hurt anyone’s feeling in this kind of situation! The most rewarding part is realizing that hard work actually pays off! It’s great to see that in the last few years, we have consolidated our position at the top of every ranking of best restaurants in the country and entered the San Pellegrino Top 50 Asia. It’s a great achievement that’s the result of a great team effort.
Q: How do you help make sure your guests are having the best experience possible?
Nicola: Training, training, training. There is no other way. We train our team two times a week through out the year. We teach them their work, but also how to pay attention to details and how to make sure that they are always giving their best. It’s hard to get on top, but it’s harder to remain there, as everyone has higher expectations. Teamwork is the key and teaching them that we are only as strong as the weakest team member makes them realize that they have to work together to achieve the best results.
Q: What is the most ridiculous complaint you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
Nicola: Nowadays people tend to complain less on the spot and more on the Internet. I’ve read a few things lately that made me laugh, like one customer saying that we are serving “airplane food”, or one saying that we are “stingy” because we wanted him to pay for a book that was for sale in our restaurant. I’ve a long history of complaint management as it was also part of my previous assignments, keeping calm and professional is the best way – leave emotions out of it and do not take anything personally.
Q: Who is another member of your team that you think deserves more recognition?
Nicola: My right hand, Pak Cok, our Restaurant Manager and Sommelier. He is one of the few Balinese I have ever met able to put together Balinese and Western culture in a working environment.
Q: Would you mind sharing your recommendation for another restaurant in Bali?
Nicola: I’m Italian so I like my home cooking. My two favourite places for it are Sasa’ in Jalan Oberoi and La Rustica in Jl. Raya Batu Belig. At Sasa, when they do it (and it’s not so often, unfortunately!) I love the Pasta e Patate, a very traditional dish that’s sort of a potato soup with some short pasta inside, eaten with some extra virgin olive oil and a lot of parmesan cheese on top! At Rustica I love their Panino Primavera, it’s so fresh and tasty!
Q: How do you like to unwind from the stress of managing Mozaic?
Nicola: It depends a lot on the amount of time I have. At the end of a busy day, I like to go out and meet friends, have a glass of good whisky and a chat. I don’t hide that I’m a big party boy and that I enjoy my night life. On a day off I like to stay with my girlfriend, if possible look for a nice brunch and relax. But as soon as I have a few days free, I love to get away and explore Indonesia. It’s such a great country, so much to see! I’ve been to some remote areas that even locals aren’t aware of!