Gstaad has its share of great personalities. They come from many different countries and backgrounds. But some seem to stand out particularly from the others. Such was the case with Pino, alias Guiseppe Cippola, who died in the spring of this year. Best known to members of the Eagle Club, where he was the Maitre d’ for many decades, his renommée spread far wider in Gstaad and its hinterland, where his sense of service, style, gentlemanly behaviour and discretion radiated example over the near fifty years of his life in Gstaad.
Pino came to Gstaad in 1969 to work at the Olden. It was there that he met Angelo, at the time the Maitre d’or headwaiter of the Eagle Club. Angelo, sensing talent, in 1973 asked Pino to come and join him at the Club. When Angelo retired, Pino took over the reins as Maitre d’ at the Eagle Club. Together with Pippo, who had joined the Club in 1968, as well as Paolo, they were to form a formidable trio providing the best of ‘old-school’ Italian style service. Pino managed his team of waiters and chefs with efficiency and fairness. He ‘managed’ the members just as much, though more subtly, with charm and style and with veiled firmness when necessary – the mark of the great professional Maitre d’. At the same time, he had a great sense of humour and of the ridiculous.
He was always steady, calm and apparently unflustered whatever the situation, covering up possible awkward situations for members of the club with loyalty and aplomb. No matter how chaotic or busy the Club, he was there to welcome members in his unflappable ‘Jeevesian’ manner. He was particularly happy to see little children, and to guide them as they grew up to become members of the Eagle themselves and go on to have their own children. He had a special drawer with treats for children and had an equally soft spot for dogs. Pino oversaw many parties at the Eagle Club, of which maybe the highlight was the way he and the Eagle team helped to make a success of the mammoth task of serving over 550 members at the Club’s 50th Jubilee party in 2007.
In 2015, Pino retired after 42 years at the Club. He had seen five presidents of the Eagle come and go, let alone countless committee members. The Eagle gave him an unforgettable send-off with a splendid and very well attended party in his honour.
In retirement, Pino returned to his birthplace Luino on the shores of Lago Maggiore. He visited Gstaad a few times after this, but then, sadly, as his health deteriorated, he was no longer able to make the drive from Italy.
Pino will be sorely missed by many people, not only the members and their families, but also his local friends here, and particularly his colleagues of the team that he worked with over so many years.