Netflix Chef Launches New Company to Fight Pandemic
Story by Raj Gill
Photos courtesy Netflix
Nick Liberato is a man of many talents: He’s a celebrated chef, restaurateur, and also host of the Netflix series “Restaurants on the Edge.” The series focuses on helping restaurants in distress by performing consulting, restructuring and turnaround services in a holistic manner.
As one example from the series, Justin Haber is a professional footballer and local celebrity in Marsaxlokk, Malta, but his harborside restaurant plunged him into debt. Despite Haber’s popularity, his restaurant’s food output wasn’t of a consistent enough quality to build a loyal customer base. What’s more, he shipped in all the seafood from overseas despite the abundance of great local seafood—a costly mistake. Chef Nicky and his team turn around Haber’s fortunes by devising a master marketing plan, simplifying the menu, and giving the eatery a fresh new modern look.
From mountainsides to white beaches, Liberato’s series takes viewers to some of the world’s most spectacular locations to help restaurateurs who need a push to live up to the destination’s magnificent views.
In response to coronavirus, Chef Nicky has partnered with Mike Dalewitz to launch a new company: 618 Hospitality Group. The duo specializes in business restructuring and turnaround, and provides restaurateurs with the tools necessary to perform, prosper, and profit while navigating the unprecedented challenges of the global pandemic.
Foodie Travel USA talked with Chef Nicky to learn more.
I am a huge fan of “Restaurants on the Edge.” It’s a dream job! How did you become involved with the series?
I have worked in the restaurant industry for many years now, and it seemed like a natural progression. I am a producer as well as co-host of the show. Unfortunately, with the pandemic and travel restrictions, it’s keeping a lot of productions from moving on. So, it is difficult to say when the next season will air.
You are a chef and a restaurateur; how did you leverage that into becoming a TV host?
I worked very hard at what I do to be the best for the job. My experience in the hospitality trade was a major asset.
How do you balance family, traveling for the Netflix show, and running a restaurant?
We make it work. We have great teams. I want nothing more than to see the restaurants on the show flourish. People’s lives and family are on the line, and I take that very personal to always give them my all.
You started out as a private chef, cooking for the stars. Tell me more.
A big part of my career was working as a private chef to the stars. I cooked for Oprah, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Ringo, Tom Hanks, and Martin Short. That was great, however, I treat everyone I cook for like a rock star.
How has the current pandemic affected your restaurants?
There have been many adjustments since day one of the pandemic pertaining to staffing, menu, hours, and capacity. One of the best things that has happened to us is setting up 618 Hospitality, which makes sure that restaurants are Covid safe, so customers don’t feel at risk.
The 618 Hospitality Group is a timely and useful resource for restaurants that are struggling. How does it work?
I have two roles, I am the COO of 618, and my job is to create and implement strategies for both front and back of the house to make restaurants run more smoothly and efficiently with the best systems in place. And, as the Executive Chef of 618, it is my job to be the chef executive along with our clients who have signed on with us for consulting services.
How will the culinary industry survive the pandemic?
I feel things are getting simplified again. Fine dining will be less desired as it is expensive, and also makes it tough to be sustainable for a business with so many restrictions to cover costs. A liquor license always helps, but making sure you have outdoor dining will certainly be something to look for.
When customers enter a restaurant that 618 Hospitality has collaborated with, they know that all procedures have been carried out to make it compliant with government guidelines. Safety is of the utmost importance. People need to know that it is safe to go out for a meal.
Raj Gill is a freelance journalist who previously worked at The Sunday Times, London for three years. Her work has been published in a wide variety of publications around the world including The Times, Suitcase, Elite Traveler, Haute Living, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Daily Record, and Luxury Travelers Guide, among others.
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