Nicola Scaramuzzino is no stranger the Bali hospitality world. Having worked and lived in the island for more than 20 years, he finally decided to make a big change and moved to the ‘big durian’ Jakarta, to assume a new position as the F&B Director of Gran Melia Jakarta. What’s New Jakarta recently caught up with the lively Italian for a one and one interview.
Why the move from Bali?
Living 20 years of Bali is a very long time, when I arrived in Bali the area that I lived in wasn’t even paved. Now it has just as much traffic as Jakarta. I had the opportunity came up to join Gran Melia Jakarta and I happily took it as this is such a great challenge for me.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
One thing for sure is, my life is always full of changes. I have lots of passion and interest, and I want to try it all. For a start, at university I studied natural science, but before that my high school diploma was in computer programming (I was part of the first generation of computer programmers out of Italian schools), but later in life I found my career in hospitality industry, where I’ve been now for over 20 years, first in inbound tourism and then in restaurant business where I successfully managed the famous Mozaic restaurant in Ubud for 6 years. I believe that it doesn’t matter what you do, as you long as you’re passionate about it, you’re good to go.
Your philosophy in the food industry?
A dinner is not a meal, it’s an experience. I believe that when people come to an upscale place, such as those in 5 star hotels like Gran Melia Jakarta, they are looking for an experience. For me it’s very important that every aspect of the meal is taken in consideration, encompassing all the senses, from beginning till the end, avoiding quick fixes and corner cutting. On the long term good product and high quality always pays off in ensuring the success of a restaurant.
What are your plans for Gran Melia Jakarta?
We have done already many small changes, improving the quality of all our venues. But probably the most visible has been the recent upgrade El Bombon-our pastry and cafe concept which used to be a quarter of the size it is now. We have decided to grow it and move its new spot, overlooking a beautiful garden. This is the best spot we have, it was part of our old night pub, and it was a pity to keep it unused during the daytime. Gran Melia Jakarta’s location is perfect for such concept, we are surrounded by numerous office buildings. I want people to come down from their office have a nice lunch and relax in our new garden area.
What drew you to Indonesia the first time?
The first time opportunity knocked on my door, my employer told me I was going to Bali, and I did not know where Bali was. We had no Google at that time, so I had to actually open up a thick atlas to locate it. That was my first time in Asia, and I never looked back ever since. I’ve gone through all kinds of ups and downs that Bali had gone through; the 1998 financial crash, and even the horrendous Bali bombing which still leaves a trace of trauma for anyone living in Bali at the time.
What are the most memorable places for you in Indonesia?
Everywhere you go, Indonesia is amazing. The Dayak Kenyah in Borneo with their famous long ears, along the Mahakam River where I also saw the river dolphins. Gunung Leuser in Sumatera, where I saw wild orangutan, Etna Bay in Irian Jaya, it’s endless, the Borobudur temple, simply magnificent.
5 words to describe you?
I’m a handful. I think it covers everything!
What’s New Jakarta would like to thank Nicola and his team for the time spared for this interview. For more information about Gran Melia Jakarta’s dining outlets, visit their website.