A young chef who has travelled extensively, Maurizio Lai has accumulated a lot of experience in his 18-year career to date, with key roles in restaurant start-ups, consultancy skills and plenty of time spent behind the kitchen cooker. A graduate of an Italian hotel school, Chef Maurizio began his career in 2002 with internships at various renowned restaurants and hotels in Italy, the UK and Malta before embarking on an exciting challenge as assistant chef at the Boscolo Etoile Academy in Sottomarina. During this exciting journey he was part of the team for cooking and pastry courses, participating in national food fairs, events and partnerships with various food-related companies. Hence the position of sous chef at the Boscolo Hotel Airone Sottomarina on the Venetian Riviera and the responsibility of devising new menus for the buffet and restaurant service, as well as supervising a number of kitchen departments.

The opportunity to exchange the familiarity of Italy for exotic Asia later brought Chef Maurizio to Beijing, China, as sous chef for the city’s famous Piazza Italia complex. As well as supervising the training of all local staff, he also worked as a teacher in the open kitchen at the Beijing institute of the Boscolo Academy. A consultancy role was the next step in his career, joining the luxurious Sofitel Wanda Hotel in Beijing, where he led Italian culinary training for the all-Chinese team before the opening of the hotel’s global culinary outlet, Vic’s Restaurant. He also led menu development for the outlet’s à la carte offerings, lobby lounge and room service. His success in consulting saw him return to Italy to work on a unique concept, La Vera Terra in Treviso. This acclaimed vegetarian and wellness restaurant allowed him to hone his skills from a very different culinary perspective, and he was responsible for managing the menu design and opening with chef Nicola Michieletto.

Chef Maurizio’s start-up experience was also in demand in Cagliari, where he oversaw the launch of Ristorante Semplicemente, spending three years with the team at this locally sourced restaurant, which quickly became a favourite with restaurant guides and travelling foodies. Co-author of a collaborative book on Mediterranean cuisine, titled ‘Meditandum’, with Chef Antonio De Rosa for the past 4 years he has worked for Armani Hotel Dubai where he was responsible for the daily operations of the vibrant Armani/Deli, a restaurant offering a great gastronomic experience with Italian and European style with a daily changing menu featuring baked goods, cheeses, pasta and more while also serving food for the entire residence of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

In recent years he has become a lecturer at Cast Alimenti with whom he has collaborated on various projects around the world, from India to New York. He followed the relaunch of The Dedica Anthology group (Autograph collection) where he was the executive chef for 2 years launching a new restaurant concept in the Latitude 45 terrace. In spring 2021 he decided to open his own restaurant in collaboration with Davide Bresciani, an expert in the restaurant sector, in a unique location, Portobello di Gallura in northern Sardinia with a view of Corsica. Al Veda restaurant is a new concept with a focus on local products but with a very international vision. Maurizio Lai’s cuisine is minimal, refined and based on fine ingredients. His delicate hands are aimed at making the most of all the ingredients without distorting the decidedly Mediterranean flavours and always in step with the seasons.