Maurizio Cecco has lived in Manchester for over twenty years. Over the past five years he has built the Salvi’s family of restaurants (Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant, Cucina, and Rosticceria) which specialise in beautiful, simple, rustic, Neapolitan cuisine.
He recently launched his fourth restaurant – Osteria in Norden, where he lives. Central to the concept of his restaurants is the high quality of ingredients, which Maurizio imports himself direct from producers in the Campania region where he was born and raised.
What got you started in your field of work?
I’ve always had a passion for food. The chance to go round the world and travel and work in a field I love, that’s what got me started.
Who have been the biggest influences on your work?
My mum has been my biggest influence. She’s a really great cook. Growing up I was interested in how she made things and I wanted to learn what she knew. And the food itself, smelling it, touching it, that influences everything I do.
Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear!
I’m very shy!
What is your proudest achievement so far?
Establishing my food in Manchester and competing with all the big chains. I’ve grown my business from something very small. To be at awards ceremonies, even if I’m only nominated, I don’t mind when I don’t win. Just being there and being recognised amongst much bigger companies.
What does your typical day involve?
I get up about 8am, I might have a couple of meetings and then I go to whichever site needs me. I’m very hands on. If I need to cover service I do. Then I try and get to the other sites as well. It’s a long day. I’m normally done by about midnight!
And how do you relax on your days off?
I don’t really have days off. I’m always working! Occasionally I go out on my motorbike, I go round other restaurants and try their food. Always food, you know.
What is the best advice you have been given or can give?
My dad always said to me, ‘never give up.’ If you believe in something, see it through to the end.
If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?
Food is my life, so if I hadn’t got my restaurants, maybe a buyer, a supplier. As long as I can work with food I’m happy.
Red or Blue?
Red. I’m a United fan.
Name your three favourite places in Manchester
It’s not open anymore, but I used to love Lounge 10. I always wanted to buy that place. Also food based, Manchester House. I think it’s fantastic and Aiden Byrne is a great chef that I admire. And finally Manchester Cathedral. An absolutely beautiful building. The structure inside is amazing and I like to visit there every now and then.
If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be?
Less chains, and more smaller independent businesses would be good. And the weather, I know that’s obvious, but I’m Italian!
And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?
It’s busy. It’s cosmopolitan. And I love it.
Salvi’s is up for two awards at this year’s Manchester Food & Drink Festival – Casual Restaurant Of The Year and Best Food & Drink Retailer. To vote go to http://www.foodanddrinkfestival.com