Since the beginning, S.Pellegrino has been recognized as one of the most iconic Italian brands. Launched in 1899, the fine-dining brand of sparkling water was sold not only in Italy but all over the world, including the United States, Sydney, Brazil and Shanghai in less than a decade during the time when the world didn’t have airplanes!
120 years after, S.Pellegrino is known not only for premium sparkling water but also for being a messenger of culture, lifestyle and Italian excellence. For over a century, S.Pellegrino has been associated with gastronomy, actively promoting fine-dining culture. And in the last decade confirming its leadership by launching the international “S.Pellegrino Young Chef” project aiming to support the next generation of talent in the gastronomy field.
Macau and Hong Kong have long been on the S.Pellegrino global fine-dining map. The green bottle of sparkling mineral water is easily recognized and served in some of the best restaurants. It’s been a success, to say the least. Recently, we sat down with Market Development Manager Gabriele Falcone to talk about mineral water, S.Pellegrino’s history, fine-dining and, of course, Italian excellence.
Why is S.Pellegrino the perfect interpretation of Italian style?
S.Pellegrino’s success is deeply rooted in its extraordinary heritage, value and iconic identity–all expressions of its unique Italian spirit. Ever since its foundation in 1899, S.Pellegrino has been a premium brand synonymous with style.
S.Pellegrino brings Italian culture, elegance, and quality to your dining table–at home or in a restaurant, from New York to Shanghai and Sydney. And S.Pellegrino’s unique taste makes it a true representation of Italian culture. Inspired by the Italian tradition of excellence and refinement, S.Pellegrino is a founding member of the Altagamma Foundation, whose primary aim is to promote top-quality Italian industry and culture at an international level.
S.Pellegrino is a favorite of VIPs and celebrities around the world. In fact, it’s the product of choice for distinguished international productions, movie stars and directors. S.Pellegrino sparkling water’s true Italian “verve” makes it a symbol of Italian style. An official partner of the Cannes Film Festival since 2009, S.Pellegrino’s successful connection with the visual arts dates back to 1960 when the S.Pellegrino Red Star was featured in the Trevi Fountain of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The same Red Star is still featured today in successful TV series like Sex and the City, Doctor House and Eli Stone, making S.Pellegrino an international status symbol.
What’s the history of S.Pellegrino, how has mineral water from a small town in Italy made it to the global stage?
The history of S.Pellegrino water begins in the second half of the nineteenth century in San Pellegrino Terme, one of the small villages along the Brembo river in the heart of the Lombardy Mountains, north-west of Italy.
The village safeguarded the extraordinary treasure of its thermal waters, which had been renowned for centuries locally but largely left unknown to outsiders. It wouldn’t be until the arrival of some clever Milanese entrepreneurs on the scene, that the spring’s true value would be understood, thereby initiating the development of a brand that today has become internationally well-known.
S.Pellegrino had an international calling from its early stage and a strong commitment to export. In the space of just a few years after the foundation, S.Pellegrino had already reached every corner of the world. S.Pellegrino was served on the best and most prestigious tables and since the beginning of the 20th century collected awards for its premium quality.
In modern times, S.Pellegrino reinforced its role as ambassador of Italian excellence investing in key partnerships in gastronomy, lifestyle, art, and culture.
Why is mineral water better than tap water, why spend the extra money?
Mineral water is water from a mineral spring that contains various minerals.
The quality of mineral water will depend on the site of its source and the nature of the aquifer, the porous rock through which the water trickles. Just like wine, natural mineral waters have their own “terroir”, a French word that means that each place on earth has its own signature taste. S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna are fine quality natural mineral water that flows from natural springs. Tap water is public water that is treated with chlorine to be safe to drink. This treatment may affect the taste and olfactory sensation giving unpleasant flavor and off-odors to the water.
The purity and organoleptic characteristics of mineral water enhance the taste of food and wine but on the contrary tap water doesn’t usually have these characteristics and the chlorine treatment may spoil the taste of food and wine.
An Italian man in Hong Kong, your life took you all the way to Asia–what paths took you to China?
I love culture, history and, above all, human beings. I come from Rome, a place that is soaked in history and culture and, to me, there is no better place than China to keep learning about human beings and culture because it’s another ancient culture that is very rich in history. This is the reason why I decided to come to China and study Chinese language and culture. I have a Bachelor’s and Masters’s degrees in Culture in Chinese language and can speak and write Mandarin. Though it has become a bit rusty (laughs) after five years in Hong Kong. I’ve spent four years in Beijing and five years in Hong Kong.
I strongly believe you can’t understand culture just from books and you need to live in the place. It is also a way to discover yourself because adapting to a new place and a new culture is like having new eyes.
Because of your work, you must have been to so many fine-dining restaurants! What are some of your favorite ones in Macau and Hong Kong?
As a matter of fact, I haven’t tried a lot of restaurants in Macau and definitely need to try more. Recently I’ve been to Wing Lei Palace and really enjoyed it; there’s also Rochubon âu Dome and 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, both were fantastic!
Naturally, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is one of my favorites. Recently I went to Haku curated by Hideaki Matsuo, a Japanese restaurant, and enjoyed it a lot. Caprice at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is another outstanding restaurant, led by Chef Guillaume Galliot.
As a Market Development Manager at Nestlé Waters (that owns S.Pellegrino), what is your role in the company?
My role is to support the development of Acqua Panna, S.Pellegrino and S.Pellegrino Italian Sparkling Drinks in the Asian markets. Together with our authorized distributors we work on sales and marketing strategies to achieve our commercial goals but always respecting and protecting our core values as premium Italian brands.
S.Pellegrino and sister brand of still water, Acqua Panna can be seen on the tables of nearly every fine-dining restaurant in Macau and Hong Kong. What’s the secret behind the success?
The key is always the premium quality of our waters. Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino built their reputation through the decades because consumers love the taste. They know and trust the uncompromising quality. Then the equation for success in fine dining is easy: a sophisticated palate for fine food and, not fine wines, will always look for fine water to pair with.
S.Pellegrino is very active in supporting young chefs, sponsoring the Young Chef Gastronomy Competition–what’s the goal with this initiative and why is it important?
Today, the impact of the world of gastronomy is being felt way beyond the kitchen. Those at the cutting edge of gastronomy are pioneering its use as a device for social impact and change. As a long term partner of the greatest minds in culinary excellence, S.Pellegrino truly believes in this: the transformative power of gastronomy.
It is this belief, that led us to develop S.Pellegrino Young Chef, a constantly engaged talent platform that nurtures the future of gastronomy.
Gastronomy can change our society. Nurturing diverse young talent from a young age is more important than ever. Chefs below the age of 30 can join the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, and that is the prime age range where up and coming chefs display extremely strong determination and interest. Through S.Pellegrino Young Chef, we dream of a better tomorrow, together.
S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna have launched the “Fine Dining Lovers”, a magazine for foodies–who curates the stories and who are the readers?
Fine Dining Lovers has a dedicated and passionate editorial team who researches and collates stories globally. FDL is a digital online magazine visited globally by close to 13 million subscribers up to date since the platform was launched in 2011. Fine Dining Lovers is unique–it’s a place to share stories, recipes, anecdotes, and events from the world of fine dining. A place to discover and learn, a place to debate and discuss and our readers are a community that shares your passion for art, food, and all things a little bit hedonistic.
S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna have created a platform with dining events and festivals happening all over the world–what are some exciting happenings in early 2020?
Just recently, in October 2019, Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list was revealed. Then we had the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Greater China Region Final on November 21. “The Era of Inspirational Women” Summit is happening in January in Taipei. And the next big one, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 in Saga Prefecture in Japan. We are very active and there are a lot of exciting events happening in 2020!
In 2019 S.Pellegrino has celebrated 120 years, what are the biggest achievements to date and where is the brand heading to in the future?
Throughout 2019, S.Pellegrino is celebrating its 120 year anniversary by honoring the emotions people experience around the table and celebrating dining in the company. As a brand synonymous with the typical Italian passion for fine living and good taste, S.Pellegrino chooses to mark this important milestone through the connection that comes from enjoying a shared meal.
For the celebrations, S.Pellegrino unveiled an Anniversary Edition bottle, dedicated to the world of restaurants. Following a prestigious line of limited editions recognizing talent in the world of style and design, S.Pellegrino takes inspiration from diamonds to pay homage to the precious moments people enjoy when dining together. Just like S.Pellegrino water, diamonds are a special and pure natural element that comes from the earth. Because diamonds, like the best memories, last forever, the limited edition anniversary S.Pellegrino bottle celebrates the best and lasting moments that bring people together around the table.
The Anniversary Edition had its debut during the Bocuse d’Or Grand Final at the Sirha in Lyon, France on 28 January, 2019. The gastronomic competition started S.Pellegrino’s anniversary year filled with memorable moments and emotions lived around the table. Throughout 2019, the celebrations have continued with the top gastronomy community, including the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in Singapore, and at glamorous lifestyle events such as Milan Fashion Week and Festival de Cannes.