Nicola Bertazzoni is no stranger to the kitchen. The sixth-generation owner of the eponymous Italian kitchen brand recalls helping his grandmother prepare Christmas cappelletti, shaping the dainty hat-shaped pasta with nimble fingers. Cooking is family, conviviality and friendship.
Says Bertazzoni, who often serves his guests pizza: “I invite friends over not to serve the perfect dinner, but to cook together. We prepare the dough and toppings, we drink wine, we chat and laugh. It’s the perfect party.”
The 42-year-old recently spoke to The Peak about the challenges of running a family business, cooking then and now, and how his ovens are like Ferraris.
How has the oven evolved?
The equipment today includes all the things my grandma didn’t have – from steam ovens that keep your roast meat juicy and tender to smart ovens that keep the internal temperature consistent when cooking.
Grandma needed to be a way better cook then as compared to now. Making a perfect roast in her day involved a lot of trial and error. She had to add and remove small pots of water from the bottom of the oven to ensure the meat had enough moisture. Her gas oven had volatile temperatures – she would open the door of the oven to bring down the heat when it got too hot.
Kitchens today are built to achieve the same result, but with a lot more precision.
What are some of the challenges of running a family business?
My biggest challenge is drawing a clear line between business and personal matters. It is not easy to keep personal feelings separate when you work with your family, but we have strict rules. We never talk business at home – our mother (who is not involved in running the company) is the referee, and will stop us immediately when she hears us talking about work at the dinner table.
What would you tell a 20-year-old looking to enter the family business?
Definitely to gain some experience outside before joining the business. It’s important that they grow and hone professional skills for at least five years and learn to work with others.
I would also tell them to leave their ego at the door, and work their way to the top. Young people bring a new energy to the business, but the older generation has a deep understanding of how the business works. It’s about finding that magic middle ground.
You used to work in the automotive industry. What parallels are there between a Ferrari and your stove?
When you talk to the owner of a Ferrari, his passion lies in the roar of the engine and the sleek coat of the car. Bertazzoni has taken a cue from Italian sports cars such as the Ferrari and Lamborghini and painted our stoves with the same velvety finish used for these fast cars. The colours are bright and beautiful – and very resilient.