MY LUX­URY LIFE

The founder of the famed Café Mi­lano reg­u­larly wel­comes heads of state, high-pro­file politi­cians and celebri­ties to his restau­rant in Washington. Born on the Amalfi Coast, the en­tre­pre­neur sits on the board of var­i­ous char­i­ties, and was pre­sented with the

The National - News - Luxury - - NEWS -

A chat with Ital­ian en­tre­pre­neur and Café Mi­lano founder Francesco Nuschese

IF YOU COULD WAKE UP ANY­WHERE IN THE WORLD TO­MOR­ROW, WHERE WOULD YOU BE?

I was born on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and I re­ally love my home town. I would like to wake up there.

YOUR PER­FECT MEAL: WHERE ARE YOU, WHOM ARE YOU WITH AND WHAT ARE YOU EAT­ING?

I love to eat at home. The idea be­hind Café Mi­lano was al­ways to cre­ate that feel­ing of home. I like to en­ter­tain my friends at home, be­cause then I can ded­i­cate my­self to my guests, with­out be­ing dis­tracted by any­thing else around me. The food has to be sim­ple, but great. It is about know­ing your guests and what they like. I have some friends who only want to eat pasta; oth­ers who only want grilled fish. It’s about cater­ing to them. Life is not about me. Even when it comes to the busi­ness, I don’t re­ally care how much money we are go­ing to make. The point is: how do we en­ter­tain peo­ple? Can we make a dif­fer­ence to their ex­pe­ri­ence?

ARE YOU A COL­LEC­TOR?

I col­lect ties and watches. I re­ally like watches. They are very per­sonal. Ev­ery day, what you wear de­pends on what you are do­ing and where you are go­ing – are you go­ing shop­ping, to a meet­ing, to the of­fice? Is it rain­ing, is it snow­ing, is it sunny? Based on that, you cre­ate an im­age in your mind of what you are go­ing to look like. Your watch is part of that.

HOW WOULD YOU DE­SCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

You should be stylish based on your ev­ery­day needs – there should be flex­i­bil­ity. Since I was a kid, I’ve al­ways been very picky, even down to my socks. My fa­ther used to say: ‘I don’t un­der­stand, why would you be so fussy about your socks, Who’s go­ing to see them?’ And I’d say: ‘Fa­ther, I’ll see them.’ I dress for my­self, not for oth­ers. And I think that’s the way it should be. You also have to have a pas­sion for de­tails, I think – although I am not quite sure if that’s a great thing, or a curse.

WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOP?

For clothes, I like Prada and I like Zegna.

WHAT DOES YOUR DREAM HOME LOOK LIKE?

I’m re­ally happy with my home in Washington. It’s a very old home, but it’s right in the mid­dle of the city and it has pretty much ev­ery­thing that we need. There’s a great, very big gar­den and we grow all our own veg­eta­bles there. And we have a green­house for the win­ter. There is a pool that I have prob­a­bly never used, be­cause I spend my sum­mers in Italy, but it’s heated just in case we want a win­ter dip. I also re­ally like my home in Italy, on the Amalfi Coast.

IS THERE ANY­WHERE YOU HAVEN’T TRAV­ELLED TO, BUT WOULD LIKE TO?

I’ve never been to the Sey­chelles.

WHERE IS YOUR NEXT HOL­I­DAY DES­TI­NA­TION?

I have noth­ing booked be­cause I’ve just spent three months in Italy, trav­el­ling around. In the sum­mer, I en­ter­tain my guests in Italy.

WHAT THREE THINGS DO YOU AL­WAYS TAKE WITH YOU WHEN YOU TRAVEL?

A watch, for sure. It will, of course, de­pend on where I’m go­ing, but also a pair of jeans and a suit.

CAFE MI­LANO IN WASHINGTON WILL CEL­E­BRATE ITS 25TH AN­NIVER­SARY IN NOVEM­BER. WHAT IS THE SE­CRET TO THE RESTAU­RANT’S SUC­CESS?

Our phi­los­o­phy is to un­der­stand our guests. In a city where you have a lot of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties, you need to un­der­stand who is who. When we first opened we had The Washington Post con­stantly ask­ing us: ‘Who came? What did they eat? Who paid the cheque?’ We never said any­thing. We make peo­ple feel com­fort­able; we ac­com­mo­date them. You know, in the US, a lot of busi­ness gets done on the golf course. But I’ve al­ways felt that go­ing to a restau­rant is about more than just food – although the food does need to be great. It’s a very spe­cial thing to be able to bring peo­ple to­gether around the same ta­ble.

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