Wellbeing at work is a priority for Millennials: according to the latest statistics, the balance between private life and work is considered more important than salary or the possibility of advancing a career. Perhaps the day has come when those who make the season are destined to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here are the chefs in Italy who are most attentive to these issues.

Matthew Metullius created some perplexity when, in 2019, he left the kitchen of La Siriola. Yet that news, one year after Covid, is more than understandable today, because we have changed our yardstick. He had said here that the stress and the distance from his little son for so many months were too much. It was no longer bearable or even fair, neither for him nor for them. Today he returned to his Trieste, with great fanfare: “At Harry’s Piccolo last year we stopped the Sunday lunch service”, he says. “They are called human resources because they must be resources for us. And to do so it is essential that they are well. Employees can park at a ridiculous price in our garage with the same service as guests and during the holidays we always assign only two full shifts, so as to have Christmas or New Year’s Eve outside, to spend with the family”.

“Human contact has always been a value for our family” he replies Alberto Santini, by Dal Pescatore. “I don’t like to use the term personal but people. Among our objectives is to recreate the spirit of a university campus: but I am the first generation who has not served in the military and I have never liked the climate of hazing, all our employees live in modern, comfortable rooms, single as much as possible. We also divided the two houses where they stay between the living room and the kitchen, so that they pass at the same pace,” he says.

“For about two years we have been closed for two whole days” he says Aurora Mazzucchelli of the Marconi restaurant. “I reorganized the kitchen and tried to understand the distance issues for returning employees to their homes. It is our culture and our pleasure, purely Italian, to stay at the table for lunch and dinner for a long time, a way to socialize, we cannot limit it, the experience must be lived at the right times and in the right comfort. So I believe that precise times cannot be given to guests,” says Mazzucchelli.

“We want everyone to learn everything and there are no classic divisions, everyone must be protagonists” he says Cristiano Tomei, owner of the Imbuto restaurant in Lucca but also executive chef of the Hotel Bauer in Venice and of the Terraforte restaurant inside Castello del Terriccio. “We want to highlight talents: too much routine is boring, feeling useful and proactive is part of well-being, of feeling good and few people talk about this”.

Claudio Sadler tells a reality that few put in the spotlight: “With the new adventure at Baglioni, we have found a comfortable situation, given that the hotel works 24 hours, and for this reason we are able to have the people who work with us do 8 hour shifts one day and two days off a week, like any employee, despite working in the restaurant world”. Everything seems perfect, and yet? “Yet no one talks about the owners of restaurant businesses, we are forced to work long hours, often working double shifts, and filling in when there are gaps, from reception to dishwashing if there is an emergency. Some may say that it is our entrepreneurial risk, but don’t pretend that it doesn’t happen”, comments Sadler. From Fat Sultanevery day there are two briefings of 15 minutes each dedicated to motivational topics of your choice (usually talking about sharing personal, essentially happy moments), with the aim of creating a team spirit and motivation.

At Gloria, the opening of the Big Mama Group, a platform is used where all employees receive work schedules well in advance. “We also use an internal social network where you can publish posts and photos of all the group’s restaurants, it’s a way to create a sense of community” says the chef Alberto Suardi. “Those who work for Gloria and Big Mama work exactly 40 hours and very little overtime, there are 37 of us in the kitchen at Gloria, including the dishwashers, 40 in the dining room and 6 at the bar, unfortunately only with such a staff can shift coverage be guaranteed, holidays and illnesses, with working hours for which overtime is truly a mirage”.

“Our structure is based on training: we explain how to read a pay slip, this is because we realized that most staff do not know the difference between RAL and net salary,” he says Vito Mollica, patron of Atto in Florence. “We listen to the needs and requirements of our employees, especially those linked to the need to reconcile work and family, with the dual objective of removing those obstacles that impede individual well-being and contributing in solidarity to the desired ongoing change in society society”.

“In these two years of opening we have tried to find entertainment for the people who work with us. because Fighine is beautiful but too quiet, especially for the younger ones” says the chef Francesco Nunziata of Fighine Castle in San Casciano dei Bagni (Siena). “So I created an agreement with a gym nearby, we did yoga sessions, we organize truffle hunting sessions and I leave my library of cookbooks available to everyone. I really care that those who choose to work with me find everything available, such as the internal laundry, the canteen (which we also provide on the day of rest)”.

“We planned two full days of closure, and only five dinner services and two lunch services. And we are also closed on all holidays in order to dispel the myth that “the cook and the waiter worked when the others were having fun” says chef Antonio Ziantoni of Zia Ristorante in Rome. “They often asked me why I kept Casa Perbellini closed on Saturday evenings, Sundays and Mondays, but the truth is that it is the greatest request from the employees,” says the chef. Giancarlo Perbellini. And then I have a meritocratic staff training method: the youngest ones start their career in the Sicilian office and then I offer them a job in the bistros, while for the most talented the landing place is the two-star restaurant”.

“In the creation of the restaurant in Riva del Garda I designed the spaces dedicated to the guest in the same way, in terms of square metres, as those dedicated to those who work”, he says Peter Brunel of the Trentino restaurant of the same name. “And so we designed a restaurant where the whole kitchen has a great working atmosphere, because I thought that those who work in the dining room are often privileged, while the chefs are forced into narrow spaces, to leave more space, instead, for the guests of the restaurant”.

“We were faced with an old system, in contrast with the “new” needs of young staff, who want more free time for themselves and their family, a new point of view, compared to the past, on values, personal affections, hobby. So we have hired more staff and lowered the number of hours to give employees more free time, we are working on bookings, concentrating them on a few days”, he says Gennarino Esposito of La Torre del Saracino. “Gone are the days when those who worked in the kitchen were condemned to suffer the whole season without ever seeing the light of day”.

“It’s not easy with a kitchen like mine: it takes many hours and a fire that’s always on (and manned) to achieve perfect cooking. You have to wake up early to create the embers that are so loved by customers” he says Errico Recanati of the historian Andreina. “However, I try to give my kids as much free time as possible and I care a lot about their nutrition. My boys and I eat with the same ingredients that we use in the Michelin-starred restaurant, but only with simpler preparations,” he says.