Tributes from leading industry figures have been received following the death last month of Alessandro (Alex) De Paulis, one of the UK's leading maître d's who worked at the Imperial hotel in Torquay for 40 years.
Some 300 guests attended De Paulis's funeral at the Our Lady Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Torquay, after he passed away, at the age of 85, on 10 December.
Born in northern Italy, De Paulis worked in Switzerland as a waiter to learn French before moving to the UK. Following a brief spell at London's Savoy hotel, he arrived at the Imperial in Torquay from 1954 and stayed there until his retirement in 1994.
Harry Murray, chairman of Lucknam Park hotel & spa, worked with De Paulis for almost 20 years when he was general manager at the Imperial.
"Alex was a loyal and hard-working colleague and I had no hesitation promoting him to restaurant manager in the early 1980s," said Murray. "He was a professional and skilled restaurateur with incredible charisma and a true gentleman and was hugely popular with the hotels discerning clientele. In the 1980s and 1990's the Imperial had a great reputation for its cuisine and gastronomic weekends, at which Alex was the shining star."
"Like most Italians Alex was a caring and loving family man and it was a privilege to host his golden wedding anniversary at Lucknam Park in 2005, where he and his wife Barbara celebrated with their three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
"Alex was a passionate Manchester United supporter and it was fitting that all the flowers at his funeral were red and white."
Simon Girling, now executive food and beverage operations manager at London's Ritz hotel, was one of De Paulis' many protégés who worked at the Imperial between 1989 and 1992.
"I was a trainee manager, working as a head waiter in the restaurant and Alex was the major influence upon me taking a food and beverage direction in my career.
By Janet Harmer
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