Chef Alberto
written & illustrated by Grandad


Chef Alberto runs a restaurant in the town of San Gimignano in Italy and he has owned the restaurant for over 10 years. The trouble was that his business was losing money, there were too many restaurants in the town and not enough customers. This was a huge worry to Alberto and when Alberto was worried he ate. He had to think of some new ideas, to get more customers to his restaurant, he had to find a way to compete against the other restaurants. The locals loved Alberto's cooking, but it was not enough. Alberto had to find a way to get more tourists and locals to eat at his restaurant.




Children, adults alike loved Alberto, he was friendly and would never see anyone go hungry. In the summer it was too hot for Alberto, so he stayed in his air conditioned restaurant during the day, but in the evenings he could be found wandering around the town with his dog Lorenzo. He would stand outside the other restaurants which were full of paying customers and sigh, he so wished he had more customers in his restaurant. His mum and dad had ran the restaurant for over 30 years and it had been very successful, Alberto had taken it over 10 years ago, when his mum and dad retired. At first everything continued to run well, but the last 2 years, the number of customers had dropped dramatically.



It was meant to be his mum and dad's pension, but after paying the bills, each month there was hardly any money to give his parents. Alberto hated the end of the month, when he did his accounts and had to tell his parents, how little their pension was. It hurt Alberto, because he had, had a wonderful childhood, his parents had put him through catering college and then university. He needed to find a way to turn the restaurant around and give his parents the pension they deserved. His restaurant was modern, the food was really good and the staff were brilliant, but the number of customers kept falling.



Recently a couple of lovely ladies had been eating at Alberto's restaurant, one was Italian and the other was English, whose name was Laura. She was in marketing back in the U.K. and she said the following day she would go around the town with Alberto, offering people a taste of his food. "Do you think that will work? Asked Alberto. Laura smiled and replied "I am very good at what I do." They both laughed and Alberto made her an amazing dessert, to seal the deal. Next morning Alberto and his staff made up plates of tasty samples and he and Laura went out to woo the people of the town. Soon they came across another English woman, who was the principle of a private finishing school for girls, which was situated just outside the town.

The woman tried the samples and liked the food, Laura asked Alberto to get some more samples while she talked to the woman. When Alberto came back, he saw the women shaking hands and the principle walking away. Alberto hung his head low and thought "am I ever going to get more customers?" "Why so gloomy?" Asked Laura. Alberto explained and Laura replied "Oh, Alberto, you have a lot to learn about marketing, I have agreed with the woman, she will bring her girls twice a week, minimum of 12, to eat at your restaurant and I have agreed a 5% discount, but no more than that." "Oh whoa, whoa, that's amazing." Replied Alberto.



Laura had agreed with the principle, she would bring her girls in 2 days time, as many of the girls came from the U.K., she had a request for the main course, to be, toad in the hole. "Toad in the hole!!!!!!!, what is that? Spluttered Alberto. "Let me tell you in Italian, rospo in foro." Replied Laura. "Ugh, that sounds horrible, I knew English food was different, but that ugh." Said Alberto. Laura laughed out loud and went on to explain, that it was sausages in a batter, served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy. "Gravy, what is gravy?" Laura laughed even more and explained, after that, her and her Italian friend showed Alberto and his staff how to make toad in the hole, which in the end turned out to be a very favourite dish in his restaurant.



After a few weeks, all was going well, the new menu was attracting many more customers and the money was rolling in. That was until one weekend, almost all of Alberto's kitchen staff went down with the flu, even his mum and dad had caught it. So, Alberto had to call on his aunts and on the assistance of his last standing kitchen staff, the only problem was, she was full of flu remedy and had been drinking hot milk with brandy in and was a bit unsteady on her feet. The aunts soon arrived, trouble was the last standing kitchen staff was no longer standing so well. So the aunts took over and the possible disaster began, it started with one of the aunts calling her nephew and asking for a bag of toads.

One aunt made the batter, which was straight forward, but they could not get past the name "toad in the hole". "Do we dip the toads in the batter, when they get here?" Asked one of the aunts. Luckily Alberto arrived, 10 minutes before the toads, so the day was saved, but Alberto felt 20 years older. In spite of the hiccup of the toads, the night was a roaring success, so much so, that the customers wanted to thank the aunts personally.



So many people were turning up at the restaurant, that Alberto was actually turning people away. He spoke to his parents and asked for their advice. They told him that they had heard a good friend of theirs was retiring and wanted to sell his restaurant and the good news was, it was only 3 miles outside town. Better news for Alberto, was that finally he could have his son home and that his son Francesco could run the new restaurant. Francesco had been away for 4 years now, working away, so everyone was happy he was coming home, especially Francesco.

Though, there was one problem with the new restaurant and that was Alberto's dog Lorenzo, who kept stealing steak from the kitchen and burying it in the restaurant's garden. You see, Alberto's other restaurant does not have a garden. nor does Alberto's apartment in the town centre, but here, well Lorenzo was in heaven. Alberto didn't actually mind Lorenzo taking the steak, what horrified him, was when Lorenzo dug the steak up and bought it into the restaurant and dropped it at a customer's feet. Alberto did giggle though, imagining Lorenzo sitting there wagging his tail, saying to himself, "excuse me, I have bought you a present, aren't you going to at least thank me?"



Alberto was walking through town, he was very excited, Francesco was coming home tomorrow, he was lost in his daydreams, when suddenly someone walked up behind him and went "boo", Alberto jumped about 10 feet in the air and was just about to shout at the person, when all he said was "FRANCESCO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Francesco had came a day early to surprise his family, "Padre," Alberto smiled like he had never smiled before. They went to the restaurant and had lunch together, everyone giggled when the heard the way Francesco surprised Alberto.



One afternoon, Alberto and his son were walking through town, when they came across one of their friends, a local artist who paints local scenes in water colours. Alberto suddenly stopped dead and said "mama mia !!!!!!!!!!!!! ". "What," replied Francesco. Alberto said "look, look, he has done paintings of me and our restaurants." "Papa, I know, you know, the whole town knows, because you tell everyone." Replied Francesco. " Si, Si, Ma, Guardare, Guardare !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!." They both giggled and walked on with Francesco saying "Papa, you do this every day." Alberto just punched the air and said "Yeap."



After dinner, one evening, Alberto was sitting in the restaurant,  when Laura arrived from London. She had come to do a piece for a national newspaper based in London. She was going to do an interview with Alberto and his family and take loads of photos. That evening and following morning,  she interviewed the family and Alberto. In the afternoon she took photos of them all. Mind you by now Alberto was becoming a bit of a diva, wearing sunglasses and kept asking for "makeup, makeup and what was his motivation for the photograph." His mum and dad soon put him right and told him to behave and then they all burst out laughing, as no one could keep a straight face. The article in the English newspaper was an immediate success.



Alberto could not be more happy, the restaurant once again was successful, they had just opened a second restaurant on the outside of town, his parents had a monthly income which allowed them to live comfortably and his son was in partnership with him. Most of all, his son was now living in the same town, that was priceless. He burst out laughing, outside one of his favourite shops, he had a Facebook and Twitter page, whatever that was, thanks to Laura, he still wasn't really sure what social media was, but he was thankful for it, as so many new customers from all over the world, turning up mentioning it. Yes, life was really good again.   Ciao.