A day in the life of our Maître D'

Antonio Sitzia lives and breathes the Collins Room.

A secret world

“This man is very special”

Antonio Sitzia may have been born in beautiful Sardinia, but this man is no island.

He is the opposite, a personality that’s magnetic, embracing and always engaging. Speaking to Antonio one morning during breakfast, a guest approached, gently placed her arm around Antonio, looked at me and said, “This man is very special, we love him”.

For a brief moment it seemed that I was being allowed into a secret world, a world that is the Collins Room, that holds Antonio and his heart within. Let’s go back to the story about how he came to be here at The Berkeley, because he very nearly didn’t make it, which would have been a great loss to us all.

A search for challenges

“Knowing Antonio, you understand he is driven to be the best”

Antonio’s father was a businessman, running a family chain of butcher shops in and around Quatu, a coastal town on the north of the island.

Following in Sardinia’s seafaring tradition, Antonio attended a nautical school and dreamed of becoming the skipper of his own boat. However, the family business called, and Antonio started at the bottom sweeping floors. Knowing Antonio you understand that he is driven to be the best, and he eventually became head butcher on his own merit, no leg up from his father required!

Following a dream

“He started the adventure of London standing on his own two feet”

Now he had proven himself, Antonio decided he wanted bigger challenges. He set about following a new dream – and that’s when he came to London.

In his own words he, “Started the adventure of London”, by “standing on his own two feet”. Luckily he had a cousin who lived in London, giving him a solid base from which to launch into London life.

And even more fortunately, his cousin had a cousin who was working at The Berkeley.  Antonio worked hard to learn English, having never spoken the language, and was speaking like a genuine Londoner in no time.

He first worked in the Events team, and pushed himself hard, worked as many hours as was needed, improved his English, and built a reputation for always being there.

And he also learnt that he loved being with the guests. This insight propelled him to the Collins Room, a place he could see would allow him to really get to know and look after guests, and above all make a difference.

A room without a door

“The Collins Room embraces everybody”

Antonio describes the Collins Room as a room without a door, quite true in an architectural sense, but what he really means is that it is “an open house”, “it embraces everybody”.

While he won’t admit that he has a favourite time of day, he does enjoy meeting new people, and often that is during Prêt-à-Portea, the unique celebration of the traditional English afternoon tea.

When Antonio is not on duty he will be at his other home, in Rochester in Kent, and he will be reading historical novels, cooking some Sardinian ravioli, or pottering around his garden with its apple tree and resident fox.

But his thoughts always drift to the Collins Room. It has somehow captured his imagination and soul, like nothing in his life ever has, or ever will. It has his signature. He was born for it.

Our pastry chef

For Mourad Khiat, the genius behind Prêt-à-Portea, inspiration comes from all sorts of places.

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