Behind the scenes with our General Manager, Saimir Kalziqi

With a career in hospitality spanning more than two decades, Saimir has worked his way through the ranks, starting as a kitchen pot washer at the age of sixteen. He explains why The Delaunay’s restaurant floor holds a special kind of charm.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’ve had a varied career that spans nearly 25 years. I came to London from Kosovo as a sixteen-year-old and initially started working as a kitchen porter to make ends meet. But before long, I fell for hospitality and the opportunities that the industry offered. I worked my way up through several positions, including food runner, bartender, waiter, head waiter and floor manager, across several different styles of restaurant, from French brasseries to American steakhouses. It’s been an adventure and I’m proud of the journey itself.

What is it about running a restaurant that you love?

I’m excited by the prospect of creating memorable experiences for our guests, whether they are celebrating a birthday or joining us for a business lunch. I always want to give them a reason to remember us, perhaps because we know their favourite drink or dessert, or because of the warmth of the welcome they receive. A GM is only as good as the team though, so another pleasure is developing the next generation of hospitality managers. But above all, I have found that running a restaurant appeals to the skills that were already inherent in me. I come from a very hospitable nation; we go out of our way to ensure that guests in our home feel special – that’s something I observed watching my grandparents host. I hope I carry that spirit on to the restaurant floor.


Tell us something about The Delaunay that you didn’t know before joining us?

I’d been a guest at the restaurant before and enjoyed its grand European spirit. But it’s only now that I’m working here that I appreciate how multi-faceted the business is, combining the main restaurant, the bar and the counter service. I love too that it’s named after a historic motorcar brand – there’s something elegant and timeless about that.


When you’re not on the restaurant floor, where can we find you?

The job is multi-layered and there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes beyond service. In the morning, I’ll greet the team on the floor and run through the day ahead. I’ll catch up with heads of department, check in with the Head Chef to plan the daily specials, analyse the business, and reply to correspondence. Outside of work, you’ll find me hanging out with my two-year-old daughter, trying new cuisines and travelling with the family.


What dish on the menu do you keep returning to?

I grew up with the concept of avoiding waste, so I love a nose to tail approach to cooking. As a result, I have a soft spot for the Devilled Lamb Kidneys – it’s the kind of food that reminds me of home.