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PEOPLE

Taikoo Place Insiders: Gil Jobic, Justin Tang and chef Andrea Viglioni of Pici

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Hong Kong’s hugely successful neighbourhood pasta favourite, Pici, has opened up a branch in our neighbourhood! The Pirata Group’s Pici restaurant team – Gil Jobic, Justin Tang and chef Andrea Viglioni – are super-excited to launch their ninth location here in Taikoo Place. They sat down with The Mag to share their enthusiasm for pasta, people, Prosecco, sustainability in the restaurant industry…and pirates.

Gil Jobic, Development Director:

Pici has been super successful since it first opened in Wanchai – the Taikoo Place outlet will be Pici #9. In HK’s business environment, where restaurants can quickly flash then fade, what’s Pici’s secret?

Pici #10 if you count Shanghai! But who's counting? (haha). At Pici, we keep things simple, we focus on one thing and try to do it to the best of our abilities. We always believed that if we put our passion and love into each plate of pasta, our guests will be able to taste and appreciate it!

 

Sustainability is an important part of the Taikoo Place community culture – from recycling and avoiding waste, to creating a positive, human centered environment. How do you think Pici fits into this picture?

“We...work closely with the Swire team and the Green Kitchen Initiative which does a great job holding everyone to high standards and providing a great framework.”
Gil Jobic

At Pici, we have been using FSC-certified sustainable packaging including takeaway boxes and utensils, as well as doing waste sorting. We also work closely with the Swire team and the Green Kitchen Initiative which does a great job holding everyone to high standards and providing a great framework.

We also feel that sustainability should include sourcing. We look for the best products, and try to select vendors that share our values of traceability, sustainability and good business practice. This comes at a cost, but we believe there are greater things at stake and we want to be part of the solution when it comes to sustainability.


When I’m not busy developing new restaurants you’ll find me…

If you don’t find me in a Pirata Group outlet, I will most likely be visiting old and new restaurants of friends in the industry. Then–trying to burn off the calories by running, spinning & hiking. It is a never ending circle!

Andrea Viglione, chef:

Can you tell us your secret for making great pasta? Is there one ingredient or technique that you absolutely must get right, or is delicious, perfectly textured pasta the result of a combination of many elements?

Italian food, in general, is always a great expression of a very few ingredients. For pasta, high product quality is a must, and then it’s up to the chef’s unique craftsmanship to adjust the ingredients based on temperature and humidity. This is what makes pasta beautiful, and consistent.

 

You came to Hong Kong in 2014. What was your impression of the Italian food and restaurant scene in HK at the time, and how did that shape your ideas for the menu at Pici?

In 2014, there were definitely fewer Italian restaurants than there are now, all very high quality. But they were pricey! What we wanted to do with Pici was bring the exact same quality that the people of Hong Kong were already used to, but in a casual environment. Pasta for us (Italians!) is a go-to, simple and filling dish that we’re able to enjoy and share with loved ones. Since we opened our very first Pici, our main goal was to make all our guests feel at home.

““What we wanted to do with Pici was bring the exact same quality that the people of Hong Kong were already used to, but in a casual environment.” ”
Andrea Viglione

At cocktail time, I’m on Team: 1) Martini 2) Negroni 3) Prosecco 4) Other, please tell us!

8 am - 11 am Cappuccino
11 am - 3 pm Prosecco
3 pm - 5 pm Martini
5 pm onwards Negroni

All jokes aside, I’m not a heavy drinker but when I do, there’s nothing better than a well made Negroni, paired with good company.

Justin Tang, Director of Operations:

If I was cast as a pirate I would most like to play: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Captain Hook (Peter Pan) or Cheung Po Tsai (famous HK pirate from Cheung Chau island)

These three are all interesting characters! If I have to make a choice – well, I’d want to play Captain Jack Sparrow. Certainly there’s no way for me to be Johnny Depp, but some of Captain Jack Sparrow’s traits resemble bits and pieces of who I am. Jack Sparrow might not be the most skilful pirate but his leadership skills and traits have given him the benefit of a loyal crew. He’s able to think outside the box, adapt to different situations and not be bound by convention.

 

You studied acting, but moved into the restaurant industry. What skills served you best in your new career?

Empathy and agility. The experience of being an actor makes it easier for me to put myself into other people's shoes. That’s been a big help in my current role, where you must anticipate guests’ needs and be considerate and empathetic to teammates.

 

What are the elements of an A+ hospitality experience, and how do you make sure it happens consistently at Pici – or any restaurant?

I don’t think there’s a master playbook of elements or criteria. Hospitality, to me, is pretty straightforward: you’re trying to meet, and then exceed guest’s expectations. To motivate a team to deliver, the key is incubating the right culture. At Pirata Group, we invest time and resources in training so that the mindset of unconditional hospitality becomes second-nature to all our team members.

Question for everybody: When I’m in the Quarry Bay area, my lunchtime go-to is…

Gil: Until recently it would have been Brass Spoon, I am part Vietnamese
Justin: Hakodate Japanese Restaurant!
Andrea: The beauty of Quarry Bay is how many options there are! So no go-to per se, until I have tried them all!


Pici
G/F Lincoln House, Taikoo Place
https://pici.hk/


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