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Carta d'identità: Peppe Irace, assistant maître

17.08.2018. Le Sirenuse

Born: Piano di Sorrento, 17 January 1971
Job: Assistant Maître, Le Sirenuse
Family: He’s unmarried. He has a younger brother, who also works as a waiter – at the Hotel San Pietro.
Languages: Italian, English, some German and French
Hobbies: boats, beach life, fishing 

On his association with Le Sirenuse 

When I was still at school I’d come and work here during my summer holidays. As soon as I left, they offered me a permanent job. That was back in 1990, when I was nineteen. Back then Aldo Sersale – a true character – was running the hotel with his sister, the marchese Anna. Their brother, Paolo Sersale, had just finished his second mandate as mayor of Positano.

On his working day

I cover breakfast most days, from seven until midday. Then in the evening it’s pretty much the same hours for dinner service – except this time it’s seven to midnight. That gives me a bit of free time in the middle of the day. I love the sea and I try and spend at least a couple of hours on the beach each day, or out on my boat.

On his duties

In the morning I’m responsible for supervising the mise en place – the table setting and laying out of the buffet – making sure that everything is perfect. But as soon as the first guests arrive there’s also an element of intrattenimento [editor’s note: often translated as ‘entertainment’, but in this context it means badinage, witty repartee]. Which sometimes carries over from the evening before. At the same time I’m always looking out for small problems, so I can mettere una toppa (literally 'put a patch on', fix them up) before they become big problems.

On memory

I try to remember what people like for breakfast, how they like their coffee, that kind of thing. A lot of regular clients don’t even order, they trust me to get it right. It’s one of the few things I’m good at…

On his boat

I have a little gozzo, a traditional fishing boat, which I keep on Positano beach. My dad used to be a fisherman – he’s retired now – and I’ve inherited his passion. Out of season, when the hotel’s closed, I’ll take the boat out along the coast. I’m not a big one for siestas, my idea of a great afternoon is to go out in the boat, maybe have a swim, do a little fishing. My dad still goes out with his friends in summer, after sunset, to fish for totani (flying squid), using hooks that have lanterns embedded in them, which attract the squid, and are baited with something salty, maybe sardines or anchovies.

On the winter break

When I was younger I used to go and work the winter season in Switzerland, because I was keen to learn and improve my language skills, and back then Swiss hotels had a reputation for having the best service in the world. I also spent some time in London. These days I spend more time at home when Le Sirenuse is closed. There are always jobs to do, painting, little improvements.

On the point of it all

There’s only one thing that matters to me in this job, and that goes for the whole team. If the guest leaves happy, we’re three times as happy.

P. IVA IT: 02397010659