Daniele Para Neroteca

Daniele Ponzani & Parakram Singh, Neroteca Bukit Ceylon

The Yum List gets an insider’s look behind the scenes at one of Kuala Lumpur’s longest running Italian restaurants, Neroteca Bukit Ceylon, with Chef Daniele and Manager Para.

What do you do and how did you get into the industry?

Chef Daniele
I remember my grandmother cooking for all the family every Sunday. She used to make delicious gnocchi and fettuccine at home. This inspired me to be a chef.

Now, daily I cook and invent new dishes, work on customer’s needs and satisfaction and manage the kitchen overall.

Manager Para
I monitor and control service and standards in the front of house at Neroteca.
While I was doing my under-graduate degree I got into the restaurant scene here. During my part time service, I started getting keen learning about wines and service standards. I wouldn’t want to miss a single day at work. Now, this discipline has developed as best part of me.

Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.

Chef Daniele
During my catering days in Italy, we had a wedding to cater for. We were transferring the wedding cake to the venue. An hour before the wedding actually started the cake fell and smashed on the floor. All the chefs gathered and made up a plan to make a quick wedding cake. It was not that easy but we managed to deliver the cake.

Manager Para
When I was still new to hospitality, I used to make a list of wines to sell on that day and I wouldn’t stop until I did. Trust me, it is not easy; but on the times I managed to do it was more motivated. This really helped me set my bar high.

What’s the best/ worst part of your job?

Chef Daniele
The best part is cooking for people but it can get stressful at times.

Manager Para
The best part definitely is meeting lots of people from around the world, sharing ideas and experiences from different walks of life. It is challenging and makes me think to go out of the box and gives pleasant experiences to guest and people around me. The hardest thing to do is to put a smile on people’s face and I’m on a cloud nine when I achieve it. The worst part of my job is if one of my colleagues wants to leave whom I have worked so closely with or when I have to let someone go because their performance is not up to standard.

What’s your favourite meal in Neroteca Bukit Ceylon?

Chef Daniele
When I eat my carbonara, I feel like I’m at home.

Manager Para
Trying new cocktails my bartender has come up with is fun. Just recently, he made a classic Italian cocktail with a twist. Ask for “Il Donna Tore Sour” – yum.

The perfect day off would be…

Chef Daniele
Relaxing by the pool, going for a massage and chilling with friends.

Manager Para
Going cycling early, meeting up with friends and catching up on the lives of people close to me.

A day in the life of a chef/ restaurant manager…

Chef Daniele
Starting very early and not knowing when it’s going to finish. It’s never boring as every day is different. I have to be creative to satisfy customer needs.

Manager Para
Hygiene is my top priority. I start off with the cleanliness of the restaurant. Monitoring the equipment, checking to see that everything is working perfectly. Then I move on to the stock take to ensure we have enough supplies for the day. Operation follows next, and I work closely with chef Daniele to prepare special menus for the day. Then I stay in the front of house serving guests and train staff to deliver a complete dining experience for our customers.

What do you do for fun?

Chef Daniele
Meet up people for a drink, go clubbing.

Manager Para
I like outdoor activities a lot such as futsal, cycling and hiking. I like doing yoga and callisthenics for strength and flexibility. Chilling with friends over a drink is also so much fun.

What’s something you’d like guests to know Neroteca Bukit Ceylon?

Chef Daniele
We serve authentic Italian dishes (definitely no cream with carbonara).

Manager Para
The wine list at Neroteca covers almost all parts of Italy and goes along with the traditional authentic Italian dishes. We have a range of wines that will satisfy customer needs. Our mixologist has lots of tropical cocktails to offer too.

What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?

Chef Daniele
Seafood with chardonnay & beef with Amarone or Sassicaia.

Manager Para
With pork, I like to go with Montepulciano or Sangiovese. For heavy rich pasta, I enjoy Chianti. The new favourite of my guests though, is a wine to treasure, literally from the “Heels of Italy” called Negroamaro.

What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?

Manager Para
We’ll bring back Neroteca’s tradition of a social mingle called “Apericena” but this time a slightly different concept. Previously, we paired traditional Italian finger food with wine. This time we’ll be having “Cocktails on Demand,” where guests choose their own ingredients for cocktails.

Check out Neroteca’s famed Sunday Brunch here.

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4 Comments

  1. Love their smiles, happy people!

  2. Always find these interviews interesting. Cheers Diane

  3. Jegan Nithianandan

    I’ve been to Neroteca, and I have to definitely say that a combination of the food, the wonderful treatment by Manager Para and his staff definitely make a positive difference to the overall experience.
    Also, very interesting to read about the different perspectives and experiences of Chef Daniele and Manager Para

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