Let us Introduce: Mario Tatini

Mario Tatini was born in the winter of 1928 in Firenze, Italy, during a period of great international crisis. Due to the chaotic situation in his country, he spent some difficult moments during most of his childhood and adolescence. At the age of 25, he decided to come to Brazil, in search of peace and stability. Always a great fighter and completely involved in what he does, today he is one of the owners of the sophisticated Tatini restaurant. The place’s success is not only due to its wholesome and tasty dishes, but also to its dedicated service. Tatini receives all his customers and friends with equal generosity. Always cheerful, his humor and simplicity are contagious. An enchanting personality. The picture of content, he inspires joie-de-vivre.

WE: Tell us a bit about your life in Italy.

MT: I led an agitated life in Italy, with many hardships. The country was going through a crisis. I practically lived in the middle of wars, nearly internal revolutions. I grew up in Firenze, my home town, with my three brothers and sister. We worked with our father in restaurants and hotels. Later, we moved to Forte del Mar, a city adjacent to Via Reggio where my father rented a hotel which became famous: the Principe Hotel. But the wars continued and my father was enlisted in that of 35-36 in Africa. When he came back, he had lost the hotel. We returned to Firenze end continued to work in the business. It wasn’t long before World War II started, and my father was once again engaged for duty in the armed forces. Our family was shaken. I took his place and went to work at hotels, which at least guaranteed my survival. I had to abandon my studies at the age of 12, when I was in my second year at high-school, and thus started devoting myself body and soul to work. My father only returned two and a half years later, he was a sick man, suffering from arthritis, rheumatism and other problems resulting from the war. We moved to a city in northern Italy and he started to work in Milan. Firenze/e had become a bombing target. We went through hard times, we saw the fall of fascism. Everybody thought of leaving the country at one time or another.

WE: Why Brazil?

MT: For us, Brazil was America. We were tired of so much war, so much instability. We wanted a new land where we could work. We needed peace. My father came first, at the invitation of some friends, and he liked it here. He said it was the land of opportunity. It was ideal for us young people.

WE: Did you have many problems when you arrived here?

MT: Yes, we had some difficulty in adapting but we soon overcame this. We continued to work in the same business we had worked in Italy and we did well for ourselves. When you do something you like and you are persistent, things always work out.

WE: What was the first place the Tatinis opened in Brazil?

MT: We bought a place that was practically bankrupt in the city of Santos, and we founded Dom Fabrizio on July 4, 1954. We introduced the “réchaud” system, unknown here until then. After four years, we opened Dom Fabrizio in S8o Paulo. It was a success. The clientèle consisted of attractive, intelligent people, people of very good taste. They had one of the great virtues of human beings: they know how to eat. Many people wanted to buy the restaurant, but I had no intention of selling it, until the end of 1982, a difficult period due to health problems in the family, when a buyer appeared with an impressive offer. I sold the place and started setting up another one. We set up the Tatini in 1983, on Rua Urussui in Itaim, and here at Batatais in 1984.

WE: You have obviously done well for yourself. Today; the Tatini is considered a tremendous success by the press, renowned gourmets and people involved in the Business. Your clients are high-class people, who know how to savour good dishes. Do you receive many famous people?

MT: The Tatini’s visitors book includes the signatures of practically every Brazilian president since the days of Juscelino Kubtischek. We receive many politicians, senators, artists and journalists, too many to mention here by name, but in any case we certainly have an enviable clientele.

WE: The ambiance is realty cozy. Both the anteroom, where the American Bar is located, and the restaurant itself are incredibly comfortable. Modem paintings give a touch of color to the light and elegant areas, occupied by cherrywood furniture. All in perfect harmony. To whom do you owe the good taste of the dScor?

MT: The place was decorated by Milton Mesquita.

WE: The Tatini has a varied menu. What are its main attractions?

MT: The Tatini’s cuisine is good, all the dishes are excellent. Our pasta dishes include Fettucine com Funghi Secchi Italiani a la créme, with dry European Funghi, creamy sauce« butler, salt, pepper and fresh pasta. We also have the Spaghetti Firenze, made with bolonhesa tomato sauce, salt, pepper, butter, white and red wine. Also worthy of mention are our Fettucine Tamandaré, Paglia e Fieno a Marechiaro, Penne All’Arrabiata, Spaghetti ao Pesto A Genovesa, Talharim a Mosquettiera and specialities with sauces such as the Piccata a Lombarda, Saltimboca A Don, Medaillons de Filet Mamma Mia, Marchand de Vins, Mustard, Moscovita, Poivre and Jules Rimet. All worthy of being sampled.

WE: Who are the real artists who manage to harmonize the cuisine, these tasty dishes and their exciting presentation? Did they also come from Italy?

MT: No, our three chefs were born in Brazil, but they have been working for us for 25 years. They began at the Tatini at a young age and have worked practically in all areas involved in cuisine. We always discuss together the bases of alimentation, they all know about nutrition, the essential elements for alimentation and the right measure to make dishes tasty. They work on a rotation basis at the two restaurants in order to ensure both have the same standards. The flavor at Urussui and Batatais is always the same. We have other cooks, each of which has his own specialty.

WE: Is the family still united professionally

MT: Of course. Besides my brothers and partners Athos, Dino and Dante and my sister Yolanda, I am also assisted by my wife Gisela, my nephews Marco and Roberto, and my youngest daughter Andrea.

WE: You’ve been abroad. How do you compare Brazilian and foreign cuisine?

MT: There has been a fantastic revolution in terms of culinary art in Brazil. The miscellaneous races that came here before and after the war helped Brazil become more and more educated in terms of the pleasures of eating. Restaurants improved in every respect, both in quality and presentation. Thirty years ago, there were only one or two presentable restaurants, the others were precarious at best. Many were famous, but leaved much to be desired. The variety of dishes was limited. People who travel abroad have contributed significantly to this evolution. They bring new knowledge, new experiences and new varieties, and they adapt them not only to local products but as well as the local palate. One can eat very well, especially in São Paulo, and people are dedicated to the development of cuisine. However, there are countries that Americanize food. Italy and France have extremely varied cuisines. What one must avoid, especially in major tourism centers like these countries, are restaurants dedicated solely to tourism and. on the contrary, visit places usually frequented by the local people in order to sample new dishes.

WE: In your opinion, what are the prerequisites to become a restaurant owner?

MT: Experience in the family or in the business. One cannot be an adventurer, one has to have aptitude, knowledge and dedication. One has to know now to buy good quality products and how to use them to the best advantage. Above all, there must be professionalism. Only very few adventurers make it. There are excellent restaurants in São Paulo, but- they make losses because they are run only for pleasure. In addition to general knowledge about nutrition and management, one must also be willing to serve people.

WE: How is Mário the businessman?

MT: I take care of the administrative part, I greet my customers and I fight quite a lot, but my people have been with me for years and they know that I am right when I lose my temper. I know everything, from preparing a sauce to a dish’s finishing touches. I can tell whetter it’s been well made or not just by looking at it. I know all the secrets involved in preparing a dish, from the purchase of products to the food’s evolution. I consider I am successful in what I do, and skillful as well.

WE: Did you take any courses related to the restaurant business?

MT: I continued my studies and majored in business administration at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. I also took various courses within my field and have always made a point of learning as much as I possibly coved about my profession. Besides studying, I have given classes and lectures, including at the Morumbj faculty of tourism on nutrition and the restaurant business. I founded the first hotel school in Brazil, on Rua 24 de Maio, with some colleagues of mine. I struggled very hard for it to be a success, and that is what happened.

WE: You are an extremely pleasant person, you , always seem to be happy with life. What is Mário like at home?

MT: “Mário is a wonderful person.” I am married and madly in love with my wife Gisela. I have four children, three beautiful girls and a “rascal,” in the good sense because he is also a worker. Fabrizio is in advertising, Paula is a phonoaudiologist, Thais is involved in physical education and Andrea does tourism, she loves to travel but she is also very well prepared to take over the administrative part.

WE: Which restaurants do you usually go to?

MT: I like to visits some of my colleagues, but I don’t go to any place in particular.

WE: Do you have any hobbies?

MT: I’ve always loved sports. When I was young I used to do boxing, fencing and rowing. Later, I enjoyed following the stock exchange. Today, practically all my activities are related to the restaurant.

São Paulo is a city which offers a large variety of gastronomic options. Tatini is one of the city’s Class A restaurants