“I was born in 1992 in Gravina in Puglia, in the province of Bari. I attended the Commercial Technical Institute of the country and already at 14 I started working. I divided myself doing different jobs, until I found my way, that is pizza, thanks to my grandmother who has always fueled my passion for‘white art “. Thus begins the story of Vincenzo Palermo (who in 2018 won one of the Neapolitan pizza championships that take place in Italy) who decided to leave Italy and after moving to Moscow landed in Dubai to open a its own restaurant-pizzeria, called Belcanto in honor of the all-round musicality of the Bel Paese, and is opposite the Burj Khalifa, in the prestigious Dubai Opera theater.
At a time when Italian restaurants are suffering from a “disposable void” that affects everyone, from bars to trattorias to starred restaurants, we asked for your opinion.
Is there a lack of staff in Dubai too?
“Unlike the‘Italy, which at the moment suffers a lot from this problem, here in Dubai the situation is completely different. Especially in the restaurant world there is a lot of competition and there is an abundance of staff. I often receive resumes of pizza chefs or cooks who are willing to work for me, almost every day, so many applications arrive. I think that the main difference must be credited to the citizenship income, which does not exist here, but also to the sense of fear or uncertainty that we experienced during the years of the pandemic. In Dubai, on the other hand, we immediately started off again, there is no shortage of work and tourists are many, many are above all Russians who have chosen one of the few destinations they can visit at the moment “.
What would you recommend to a young person who wants to enter the restaurant world without feeling “exploited”?
“First of all I would advise him to study, read and always be ready to learn. I would tell him to seize all the opportunities that work can offer, interpreting the differences of opinion and cuisine as a‘opportunity for growth and not as a failure. And I would explain to him that if you put your heart into this work, there‘love and all the passion the results surely arrive in the end, mine is an example. It is true it is quite hard work, but it gives a lot of satisfaction, just seeing a customer eat and appreciate your pizza or your plate, fills you with joy. Finally, I would like to tell him to never give up on his dreams, and to always believe in them, overcoming obstacles and difficulties “.
How it started?
“After the first experiences in the family pizzeria, I decided to cultivate this passion of mine, studying and obtaining a diploma as a pizza chef. In 2011 I attended a school of white art and in 2015 the‘meeting with Eataly who took me first to Rome, then to Piacenza and then to Moscow in 2017. In 2018 I took part in the World Pizza Championship in Parma, competing for the Neapolitan Pizza category stg getting the first place. By conquering the absolute record with the highest score ever achieved in the competition: at just 26 years old I was one of the youngest boys to have obtained such a coveted prize “.
How did you experience this moment?
“I spent many months preparing myself for this beautiful competition, I made many sacrifices, but without‘other positive experiences and growth. Many sleepless nights have been spent kneading in a pizzeria, trying to get the most out of myself and always working hard to get the best. Many were the difficulties and challenges that I had to face with myself but after so much effort I can say to all the pizza chefs who work hard every day: ‘Hard work always pays off’ … “
What does “expatriate” mean in 2022 as you define it?
“Att‘the desire to escape and experience is so great that “don’t you see there‘now ”to go away. It is true once you are all‘abroad, perhaps in a big city, you begin to see only the positive sides, that is, everything looks fantastic, things work better, there is more meritocracy. For those who are tied to their roots it is not easy to have to abandon and leave all their family and friends. Over time and over the years I can say that if at first everything seems incredibly magical, over time the lack of our land becomes bigger and more present in one’s mind, and it is something that an expat, an expatriate must learn to live with ” .
What she misses most about‘Italy?
“I am assuming that due to the pandemic I have not returned to Italy since 2019, and I miss the motherland more every day. Here in Dubai, apart from my family, I miss nature, the climate. And food”.
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