In celebration of Father’s Day this Sunday we interviewed some restaurant stalwart dads and their sons who have followed them into the industry. What are the lessons they’ve learnt from each other and what is it really like to have hospitality in the blood.

Giovanni Pilu and Martino Pilu, Pilu at Freshwater, Freshwater, NSW

Giovanni Pilu and Martino Pilu, Pilu at Freshwater

Giovanni Pilu is the owner (together with his wife Marilyn) of Pilu at Freshwater restaurant which has just celebrated its 15th birthday. His son Martino has worked in the restaurant for several years as a part-time water and bartender.

Giovanni Pilu

How did you feel when Martino started working in the restaurant?

I was initially hesitant to be working with family but it didn’t take long for me to really appreciate him working with us – he doesn’t expect any preferential treatment and is a really dedicated, passionate employee.

What are the challenges of being in the restaurant business with family?

Sometimes the lines between work and home become blurred – we need to remind ourselves to not always talk about work when we’re at home.  But working with family is actually great, family are your most trustworthy employees.

If there was a single message you could impart to your children about hospitality, what would it be?

It’s a fabulous industry with so many opportunities.  Creating customer experiences is extremely rewarding.  I believe working in hospitality has helped build Martino’s confidence and self-esteem which will serve him well in whatever career he pursues.

What is special about Father's Day for you? What do you love about the day?

Normally we work on Father’s Day but I always look forward to celebrating either at breakfast or in the evening – hopefully they’ve prepared something special – I always look forward to my kids’ homemade cards which are always heartfelt.  Regardless of how busy we are with work I know it’s day that my kids will make me feel special!

 

Martino Pilu

Hospitality is obviously in your genes. Was there ever any question that you would work in the restaurant in some capacity?

At a young age I didn’t really think about it at all until I started to work to make some money in the kiosk. I slowly fell in love with working with new people and the relationships made with customers. So I guess it was inevitable.

What are the most important things your dad has taught you about restaurants and the hospitality business?

To have a good relationship with your staff and keep priorities in line.
What are the challenges of being in the restaurant business with family?
Home life revolves around hospitality and restaurants but at the same time it is great to see passion and enjoyment still after 20-odd years in the restaurant business.

What is special about Father's Day for you? What do you love about the day?

Dad is the biggest role model in my life, and Father’s Day lets us celebrate how great a father he is. I look up to him every day and couldn’t be more proud of him and blessed to have him guide me through life. We spend a lot of time together and Father’s Day is an extension of this to appreciate how special he is to me and my sister.

Philippe and Pascal Lebreux, Chez Pascal, Sans Souci, NSW

Philippe and Pascal Lebreux, Chez Pascal

Chez Pascal has been a Sans Souci favourite serving classic French fare for more than three decades. Chef Philippe Lebreux’s career spans 50 years. The restaurant is named after his son Pascal, who runs the restaurant. 

Philippe Lebreux

How did you feel when your son joined the business?

I felt a sense of pride and connection that I could share my passion with my son.

What are the challenges of being in the restaurant business with family?

Trying not to bring business home. Sometimes the lines become grey and there are fights but for us they never lasted long and we were back to normal very quickly.

If there was a single message you could impart to your son about hospitality, what would it be?

Do the best job you can, be proud of who you are and try not to stress yourself out too much.

What is special about Father's Day for you? What do you love about the day?

It’s a family day. A day where your children show you you’re loved, respected and they are appreciative for all you have done.

 

Pascal Lebreux

Hospitality is obviously in your genes. Did you ever really contemplate anything else as a career?

I did go to college when I was younger and studied a bit of business and sports management but it was hard for me to sit still and I obviously wasn’t passionate enough about it to continue on.

What are the most important things your dad has taught you about restaurants and the hospitality business?

It’s hard work, but worth it if you love what you do. Be passionate and be positive. Be hospitable as well as entertaining. Always go out of your way for your customers. Stick to your beliefs even if upsets some people. We have a dessert ‘Crepe Normande’ that Dad has been serving for 33 years and has never allowed people to have cream or ice cream with it. As you can imagine this has caused numerous fights with customers over the years. Be unique. 

What are the challenges of being in the restaurant business with family?

In our particular situation probably the generational gap has made it difficult to see eye to eye at times over the years.

What is special about Father's Day for you? What do you love about the day?

Life is so busy, it’s nice to be able to slow down, share a day with family and show dad how thankful I am for giving me life and for the life he has given me.

Marco and Nino Cuciniello, Ercolano, Pattersons Lake, Vic

Marco and Nino Cuciniello, Ercolano

Marco and Nino Cuciniello work together at family-owned and run Italian eatery Ercolano in Patterson Lakes, where Nino manages front of house and Marco is head chef.

Nino Cuciniello

What’s it like to work in the restaurant business with family? What are the particular challenges?

Working with family brings a huge sense of both pride joy and fulfilment as a parent. When we are very busy and we are all able to not only look after our customers but the buzz of working as a tight team is very rewarding. Challenging times can be difficult, but we understand each other’s roles and we are good at making collective decisions by bouncing of one and others strengths.

How did you feel when your son followed in your footsteps and started working in hospitality?

Being a passionate foodie and people’s person made me very proud when Marcò our youngest son of three children agreed to be our head chef and take complete ownership of our kitchen. He has taken to this challenge with great gusto and determination to deliver consistently. It’s a great achievement.

What's the most important thing you've taught Marco about hospitality?

Marcò has taught himself from day one knowing in his heart that cooking was his calling. Growing up his nonna Maria Cuciniello always inspired him to be a great chef. He also saw me cooking or teaching someone how to cook a family classic so it was a no brainer for him. 

Most importantly Marcò understands people and how food simply brings everyone together. Great food, wine laughter and friendship.

What is special about Father's Day for you? What do you love about the day?

When I grew up my Dad, Luigi Cuciniello, was the man of the house and my mother taught us to respect him. On Father’s Day Mum made sure we all had a little gift for him. My role was to bring him his new leather slippers in bed with his coffee! 

The other special thing was my mother would cook his favourite food, which was usually mine as well.

 

Marco Cuciniello

Hospitality is obviously in your genes. Did you ever really contemplate anything else as a career?

There was a stage where I wanted to be an actor work for JBHiFi. But I gave all those a go and just knew cooking was in my blood. 

Have you worked in other places as a chef? If so what drew you back to the family business?

Yes I started cooking when I was 14 and began my apprenticeship at the age of 16 so I have worked in a few restaurants. My dream was always to have my own restaurant and the fact I get to do this with my family is a dream come true. 

What are the most important things your dad has taught you about restaurants and the hospitality business?

My dad has really taught me my whole life how to be hands on and how there is a solution for everything. Patience is probably my strongest point which I have learnt from watching him work all his life with many staff members under him. And that you are only as good as you treat your staff. 

What are the challenges of being in the restaurant business with family?

The main challenge would be all of us getting along. Thankfully we are a close family and always have each other’s back no matter what. Of course we argue at times but we always end up coming together and getting through it all. 

What is special about Father's Day for you? What do you love about the day?

Father’s Day is a day where everyone comes together to celebrate their papas and it’s nice that people think of coming to your restaurant to enjoy that day with them. Being able to work with my dad on that day is a blessing. That’s what means the most to me.