Erio Cella has run Parma, an Italian restaurant in Davos, for almost 42 years, 28 of them with his girlfriend Patrizia Fuchs. During the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), many famous faces pop in for a meal. (Kristian Kapp, swissinfo.ch)
Cella actually arrived in Davos 55 years ago as a 17-year-old straight from the Italian city of Parma. Fourteen years later, in 1975, he opened his own restaurant – something he remembers vividly. “The locals said, ‘The Italian won’t last a year’. And I’m still here – the oldest landlord in Davos!” he proudly told swissinfo.ch.
He and Fuchs offer Italian specialities and place great value on traditional cooking. “Whenever I hire a cook, I always ask ‘do you cook with a knife or scissors?’ because nowadays more and more people cook with powder from a packet rather than the traditional way. But not here!” he said.
The WEF meeting always sees celebrities coming into the restaurant. Current cabinet ministers who make a habit of eating at Parma include Doris Leuthard and Alain Berset. Big-name guests from abroad include former Spanish king Juan Carlos and the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres.
Patrizia Fuchs says a visit by Peres was typical for the atmosphere in the restaurant during the WEF meeting.
“Shimon Peres would first go to the regulars’ table, greet everyone there and then go to his table,” she said, adding that this friendly and informal atmosphere was important and appreciated by the guests.
“We treat everyone the same, also during the WEF,” she said, stressing that there’s no special treatment. “If it’s not on the menu, you can’t order it.”
The restaurant has become a success story that in the beginning Erio Cella wouldn’t have thought possible.
“When I came to Davos, I said I’d be gone again within four months, tops. I came from Parma, which is eight metres above sea level, and here we were up in the mountains,” he said.
But then his career took off – starting as a dishwasher and carrying meals to the dining room up the drag lift! “For CHF280 a month,” he added. Today he laughs about those days. “At first I washed the dishes – 55 years later I wash the glasses, too.”