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Monocle 2018 - Salone Del Mobile

Monocle 2018 - Writer Laura Rysman / Photographer Younés Klouche


It takes a special talent to cater to the crowds descending on Milan during Salone del Mobile. We join the set-up team behind Barbieri, a favourite with design brands when it comes to marshalling the big bashes

"Catering is 100 per cent stress but it's a business built on transforming (that) stress into smiles" says Serena Barbieri, head of the Milanese catering company that bears her name. After 11 years in the business, it now stages 150 events per year for high-fashion clients that include Hérmes, Valextra, and Zegna, catering for as many as 3.000 guest at a time. 

   Some caterers are expanding on an existing restaurant business but many take the sector as a low-risk, low-overhead path into the world of food. Barbieri, a literature major enraptured buy the kitchen, launched her business as a lark after she for her grandmother's 80th birthday. The celebratory dinner for 80 discerning guest featured home-style dishes from her native Cremona and earned her hight praise.

   Hers in an industry full of eleventh-hour emergencies. "I make 12 different back-up plans for every event" she says sportingly. Later in the evening she'll serve dinner to 50 top clients of jewelry company Pomellato in the soaring Sala Otto Colonne of Palazzo Reale, Milan's sprawling former royal palace. [...]

[...] I'm the conductor of the orchestra. No mater how many people there are working for me, these events in the end are very personal reflection on myself and my business.

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