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As the charismatic director and general manager of the highly celebrated, three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, Diego Masciaga delivered the finest service to loyal customers, global leaders, royalty and film stars for more than three decades.
His knowledge is revered the world over and his advice has proved inspiring to thousands working in the hospitality industry; and now he has set his sights on spreading that understanding further as he embarks on a career in motivational speaking and customer service.
Speaking at the announcement of his departure from the Waterside Inn, Masciaga said: “I’m very sad to leave, but I’m quite happy to follow a new direction, which is at the same time similar to what I’ve been doing the whole time – helping people. What I leave behind are hundreds of staff that I have trained [here], [and] now they’re all over the world. The pupil should beat the master, and some of them have done that, and I’m so proud of them.”
An illustrious figure, Masciaga became a Master of Culinary Arts in 2000. He joined the Academy of Food & Wine UK Restaurant Manager Hall of Fame in 2009, and he was the third recipient of the Grand Prix de l’Art de la Salle, presented by the International Academy of Gastronomy, in 2010. Two years later, he was awarded the title of Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana by the Italian government for both his support of young people and his services to the hospitality industry.
Born in Oleggio, a village near Stresa in Italy, in 1963, Masciaga was working in Alain Chapel’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Mionnay, France, by the age of 17. In 1983, on his 20th birthday, he moved to London and joined the Roux brothers’ three-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. He worked there until 1985 and, after a year as restaurant manager of the Roux Brothers’ Le Mazarin in London and a brief return to France to Restaurant Alain Chapel in 1988, he joined the Waterside Inn restaurant, by that time run solely by Michel Roux Sr.
Roux said: “I commend Diego as a dedicated and gifted host who has defined exceptional service across three decades. Perhaps more than this, he is a leader and brilliant teacher who has inspired hundreds of young people to pursue careers in hospitality throughout the world. A giant of his profession, I know that Diego will continue to share his knowledge and skills, since this is his true vocation.”
Alastair Storey, chairman of WSH and the Gold Service Scholarship, praised Masciaga for his lifetime of dedication to service. “Diego has shown us what a lifetime of dedication to this profession can achieve,” he said. “He makes each one of his guests feel special. His consummate service skills and knowledge make everything seem effortless, which of course it is not. To achieve what he has over three decades at one of the world’s truly great restaurants is remarkable – if not unique. He is a legend.”
Critically, Storey says Masciaga is always available to help others and has been a mentor, guide and motivator for many. “He is generous with his knowledge and wisdom, but expects high standards of those who would follow him.” He is also a mentor for the winners of the Gold Service Scholarship.
Two-time Catey winner Tom Kerridge, chef-patron of the Hand & Flowers in Marlow and a regular diner at the Waterside Inn, concurs: “Diego is the ultimate professional. He is a huge supporter of front of house and an absolute showman – he is not subservient, but a service star. I don’t think there is anyone better than him in the country. To watch Diego carve a duck for two at the table is a magical thing to see. He will be greatly missed.”
The editorial team of The Caterer, with nominations from all the Cateys’ judging panels