Tips of the Icebergs

Photography: Chris Chen

As Icebergs Dining Room and Bar turns 10 this year, we asked restaurateur Maurice Terzini to share his 10 commandments of restaurant craft.

1. Front of house drives the show. Good food is pretty common these days; what makes the difference is the vibe and the service.

2. Concept before location. We have lots of ideas filed away, and when the right location arises we refer to the idea that best suits the location.

3. Look around for inspiration, but don't copy. I've always found inspiration in other restaurants and bars, but globalisation has encouraged too many direct rip-offs, and it's pretty boring and bad for our industry to just copy things blatantly.

4. Serve food you understand. The only time I've felt uncomfortable as a host is when I've had to serve food I didn't understand. I'm sticking to Italian now.

5. Waiters should look like waiters. They shouldn't kneel by the table, address customers as "guys" or join the conversation unless they're invited. And they should always greet people properly: "Welcome to the restaurant".

6. Choose service-friendly plates. Flat plates aren't aesthetically pleasing and they're impossible to clear. I hate anything square, too.

7. Watch your rent. I'm now of the opinion that in this country anything over eight per cent (rent to turnover) is almost too hard if you're running a quality operation.

8. Cutting costs is not an alternative to generating revenue. I've been most successful with ideas that were truly left of centre rather than boardroom-driven.

9. Eat and drink in your own places. Ronnie Di Stasio taught me this. It's the most important lesson in my career - it's the only way to really understand your product.

10. Look after yourself. It's too easy in our industry to go over the edge.

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach, (02) 9365 9000.

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