We at Tuttoitalia went to visit him in the new store for an interview and he welcomed us with great kindness and professionalism, showing his enthusiasm and determination. He distinguishes himself from other restaurants for the offer of an espresso product, made with the highest quality materials. A heated challenge in Switzerland, while a long established business in Italy. Panino Giusto, born in Corso Garibaldi in Milan in 1979, in response to the stylish nocturnal hunger of the Milanese paninari, crosses the Alps and arrives in Geneva where Harold Hunziker, former executive of McDonald's Italy and then Switzerland, manages this new venue. As a profound connoisseur of the subject, Hunziker speaks all the languages of the two countries, in addition to Dutch (from his mother) and tells us the story of the company expanding to all continents of the globe. "After having found real success in the Milanese areas - explains the owner - in 2008 for Panino Giusto is the turning point, because Antonio Civita approaches" a Roman entrepreneur who soon fell in love with the brand and the concept, so much so that he dreamed the opening of many refreshment points. Panino Giusto was destined to change. He was not in the industry, but both he and his wife Elena fell in love with the company, so much so that they went from regular customers to licensees of new stores. Shortly thereafter they acquired all the shares in the company and became the sole owners of the brand. Within a few years, numerous restaurants opened not only in Milan, but also in Rome, London, Paris, Tokyo, Yokohama and Hong Kong. We currently have 33 active points in the world, but new openings are in sight. But let's find out how Hunziker approached this reality and what led him to open a Panino Giusto in Geneva.
What was your first approach with the Milanese company? «In 2015, a galeotto was a European convention around food in Zurich where I met Antonio Civita. At the time I was CEO of McDonald's Switzerland and previously COO of McDonald's Italy for many years. Between the two of us a great affinity and mutual esteem was born immediately, and as sometimes happens, nothing happened by chance. I was going through a moment of change, so I decided to throw myself into a different and fascinating opportunity that was congenial to me, also given my long and profitable experience in the culinary world and especially in the field of sandwiches. I left my important job role to dedicate myself to opening the first Panino Giusto in Switzerland. After various market researches we finally inaugurated, on October 1st, the first Panino Giusto restaurant in Switzerland in Rue Pradier, near the central station of Geneva ».
Besides the sandwich, what can you find on the menu? «We have hot and cold dishes. The main service we perform is during the lunch break even though we are open from 10 to 22, and you can eat at any time of the day. We are particularly keen to show the Swiss that Italian cuisine is not just that of pasta and pizza. On the market you can also find excellent sandwiches, made according to a precise rule of art and a careful assessment of the quality of the products. We have made available a varied menu, although we mainly deal with sandwiches, but you can find delicious and delicious salads, excellent meat and delicious first courses. For us it is important to explain that we are neither a fast-food nor a classic restaurant, but a new and informal concept, in which people can disconnect from work and come and grab a sandwich on the fly, as they can sit down and enjoy themselves calmly. your own lunch, or dinner, and we also offer a take-away service for those in a hurry ».
What are the characteristics of the right sandwich? «The sandwich must be made at the moment, it is expressed and nothing is prepared in advance. We can summarize with three important words what are the main characteristics that our sandwiches must have: Territory, Mastery and Creativity. Panino Giusto is a shared gastronomic value and expresses the link with its land of origin. With each of its ingredients it becomes an ambassador of the extraordinary multiplicity and quality of Italian products, both fresh and transformed in the kitchen. The Panino is also experienced as a laboratory open to creativity. The tools are knowledge, curiosity, an infinite selection of products, the ability to combine and harmonize flavors. This testifies to the Italian ability to know how to make any artisan product well. Panino Giusto is an exemplary case of artisan art that is expressed in the gastronomic field. It also takes a precise art to put together the ingredients that make up the sandwich, nothing is left to chance and everything is done according to an order. The bread is lightly toasted, so the food inside stays fresh. The cured meats chosen with care and accuracy are finely cut but the quantity is considerable, greater than what is normally used. The stratification of the products and the positioning of the same also changes the organoleptic quality, therefore the taste varies according to the combination of the chosen foods ».
How is the choice of products made? «The cured meats that are one of the key elements of panini are part of the so-called core or central products of Panino Giusto, which has been working for decades with the same suppliers, family businesses that share the qualitative values of Panino Giusto. These are imported from Italy. And this also applies to olive oil, and various ingredients, such as the onion from Giarratana, which are not found in Switzerland. All fresh ingredients such as cheeses, salads and meat are purchased in Switzerland. The bread is also imported from Italy to remain faithful to the ten-year recipe studied in Milan, and the type of organic mother yeast used and the high digestibility make Panino Giusto an excellence in today's market ".
Over the years, have you renewed yourself with recipes? "Of course, over time there has been an evolution in the recipes. The experienced sandwich masters are always ready to study new recipes and also to involve starred chefs to give a touch of originality and uniqueness. The famous Chef Claudio Sadler, creative, curious and informed interpreter of traditional Italian cuisine, with his two Michelin stars which are not a source of pride for him, but a constant stimulus to never lower the level of his research and enthusiasm for new companies, has put several amazing sandwiches revisited on the menu. Panino Giusto also collaborates with the Accademia del Panino Italiano, a foundation chaired by Alberto Capatti and which involves various producers, artisans, restaurateurs and influential opinion makers in its council and which aims to support and disseminate the values of the sandwich Italian. This also allows for the development of new ideas, always pursuing the basic values of the brand ".
Dreams in the drawer for the Swiss format? “I would like to create a fair balance for Switzerland for the future. I am evaluating two further points of sale to be proposed in Geneva in addition to the existing one. They could possibly be smaller and faster, always including a take-away service developed on a maximum of one hundred square meters and with orders at the counter, but still offering the possibility to eat seated and with a highly flexible service. This format is particularly suitable for travel points such as stations, airports or shopping centers. We would also like to develop a sandwich with a Swiss touch to enhance the local territory with Italian savoir-faire. Just as in Italy there have been important collaborations with starred Chefs, for example we could also involve a renowned Geneva Chef, to give an imprint of creativity to our Panino Giusto ".
Rue Pradier 6