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Claudio Pulze

21 September 2006

Overall ranking: 77 (new entrant)

Restaurateurs ranking: 21

Claudio Pulze is one of London's most influential and prolific restaurateurs. He has opened more than 35 restaurants in the capital since 1975, many of which have showcased the talents of some of today's most celebrated chefs - Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton, Giorgio Locatelli, Stephen Terry and Vineet Bhatia to name just a few.

He currently owns no fewer than 17 eateries with a variety of partners, along with the Beehive pub off Baker Street (his first), which he bought in 2006.

The line-up includes the seven-strong A-Z Restaurants group, which includes the Michelin-starred Aubergine, Zafferano, L'Oranger, two Memories of Chinas, Alloro and Spiga Soho.

The Cuisine Collection takes in the Frith Street restaurant, Zaika and Al Duca, while Vinum Restuarants owns the Cantina Vinopolis, Wine Wharf and Brew Wharf.

Completing the portfolio are Latium, Deya, Fiore and Via Condotti.

Claudio Pulze - Career guide
Claudio Pulze was born in November 1949. He first worked as a bellboy at an exclusive Turin hotel during his school holidays. After studying at hotel school in Turin, he worked in Germany and Bermuda before arriving in England in the early 1970s.

Pulze opened up his first restaurant, Montpeliano, in 1985 before launching the Pasta Bar chain in 1983, which he sold in 1986 to Robert Earl of Planet Hollywood.

In 1992 he teamed up with actor Michael Caine and star chef Marco Pierre White to open the landmark Canteen in Chelsea - one of the first to offer affordable dining in a glamorous setting. It won a Michelin star that was retained by three chefs over an eight-year period.

In September 1993, he launched A-Z Restaurants in partnership with Franco Zanellato and ex-stockbroker Giuliano Lotto. The first restaurant, Aubergine, won two Michelin stars under chef patron Gordon Ramsay.

The next two openings, the Italian Zafferano (1994) and L'Oranger (1996), also won Michelin stars under their respective chef-patrons, Giorgio Locatelli and Marcus Wareing.

By the time Pulze resigned in April 1998 following a power struggle with Lotto, the group comprised two Memories of China restaurants, Spighetta and two Spigas.

Claudio Pulze - What we think
It seems that Claudio Pulze unveils a new high-profile restaurant in the capital almost every year. This achievement was celebrated in 1999 when Pulze won the 1999 American Express Award for Outstanding Contribution to London Restaurants at the Carlton London Restaurants Awards

After quitting A-Z in 1998, Pulze promptly teamed up with business partner Raj Sharma to form the Cuisine Collection and open the acclaimed Frith Street restaurant in Soho under chef Stephen Terry (moving it to Kensington in 2000).

In 1999 he bought both the Vineet Bhatia-headed Zaika, which in 2001 became the first Indian restaurant to win a Michelin star and the Italian Al Duca, which holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Cuisine Collection has also embraced other restaurants that have fallen by the wayside, such as L'Anis (under Jason Atherton), Il Forno, the Spanish El Rincon and the Chinese Shi Hon Mei.

In the same year that he bought us Zaika and Al Duca, saw Claudio launched Vinum Restaurants with restaurateur Trevor Gulliver to open the 150-seat Cantina Vinopolis brasserie in the Vinopolis City of Wine. The following year, the pair added the Wine Wharf wine bar to the complex and, in 2006, opened the Brew Wharf restaurant and micro-brewery nearby.

The modern Italian Latium restaurant followed in 2003 in partnership with young chef Maurizio Morelli.

Pulze joined forces with Michael Caine again in 2004 to open Deya a less formal and more modern Zaika while Fiore gave celebrated Italian chef Umberto Vezzoli his first English restaurant.

Pulze also found time in 2004 to try to reign A-Z Restaurants from an administration offer that attracted 29 bids by the first of two deadlines.

He teamed up with Simon Binder of Café Med, then Marlon Abela of MARC, but was outbid by his former A-Z partner, Franco Zanellato. At the 11th hour, he teamed up with Zanellato again to buy the company for £7m.

In his absence, A-Z had grown to 11 branches but had shed Rosmarino,Timo, one of the Spigas, and La Spighetta.

Pulze's newest opening, in 2006, was Via Condotti, a partnership between Pulze, general manager Richard Martinez and ex-Canteen chef Pasquale Amico.

Claudio Pulze - Further information

A-Z Restaurants profile on CatererSearch

Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here

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