Life is nothing but a long sequence of sliding doors. Whether we are guided by chance or will, for every door that closes, many more open. The career and life of Claudio Melis are a long succession of moments of this kind.
Chef by chance, Claudio trained in Sardinia, where after middle school he attended the Sassari Hotel School. He graduated from here with top marks.
After school, he started working in restaurants on the Costa Smeralda during the summer season. This is where he met one of the most important people in his career, a head pastry chef. This professional chef had worked with the Olympians of the cooking world like Gualtiero Marchesi and Frédy Giradet.
This man saw something special in Claudio and invited him to Milan for a tasting in Marchesi’s restaurant. It was at that moment that Claudio understood that if he were to continue in the profession, then this was the only way he wanted to do it.
So, thanks to the intervention of his pastry chef friend, he moved to France where he spent a year and a half gaining a great deal of experience. Many years of travel and wandering followed. After France, Claudio also worked in Germany and Italy, finally arriving in the restaurant of Gualtiero Marchesi, where everything had begun.
This is a Michelin three-star restaurant. The stakes are very high, the environment tough and hostile, the stress enormous. The greatest effect is on one’s personal life. Therefore, at the age of 24, Claudio moved to Parma to work with Palizzi as a chef.
For two years he maintained the star rating and improved the customer offering, learning what it means to be a leader and starting to make inroads, not only in the running of the kitchen, but also in the administrative and management aspects of catering.
Tireless and versatile, after this experience Claudio took over a chalet in Madonna di Campiglio together with his partner. They ran it for two years, during which time they learned the meaning fostering close customer relationships.
In addition to this awareness, the experience in Madonna di Campiglio left Claudio with an intense love for the Dolomites, so much so that he ended up returning to work in this area, firstly at the Hermitage and later at the Siriola, one of the restaurants owned by the Wieser family.
At the Siriola, he picked up the legacy of Corrado Fasolato, a chef who had built his success by offering a cuisine that was daring in character but of uncompromising quality. Claudio continued in that vein and, in 2008, he was entrusted with the entire menu at the Siriola, which was serving up to 240 covers per day.
It was during this period that he met Monika, who was to become his wife. In 2010, the couple moved to Saudi Arabia to manage the restaurant “La Cucina”. Located in a huge hotel complex, in 3 months the restaurant went from 30 covers per day to 90 covers for lunch and 180 for dinner. Despite a very restrictive environment, Claudio managed to impose his ideas, which proved to be successful.
In the United Arab Emirates, Claudio got to know Gert Kopera, a manager of the Rosewood hotel group. Gert mentored Claudio and taught him the secrets of managing restaurants and hotels on a scale that he had not imagined until then.
Under his guidance, Claudio rapidly rose the corporate ranks, acquiring increasing experience and confidence in his own skills. In 2012, Gert, who had moved to Jumeirahin the meantime, called Claudio to Dubai.
He wanted him by his side to create a restaurant structure for the hotels in his new company. The two disrupted conventional corporate structures by creating an essentially new catering sector that was independent of the hotel organisation. Something completely new in a change-resistant environment. Claudio was made head of the entire Italian section of this new company.
This experience ended in 2015 when, together with Monika, Claudio returned to Bolzano to help his wife’s brother, Robert, in managing the Zur Kaiserkron restaurant and launch Esemdemì, a new exciting business project.