Caterina Bernardini de Pace on Bringing Italy to Hong Kong


ICC’s Caterina Bernardini de Pace on Bringing a Slice of Italy to Hong Kong

Barely a month into her new job as the general manager at the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao (ICC), Caterina Bernardini de Pace leaped into her first major assignment: to mount a Christmas dinner for about 350 people amidst the trepidation of a pandemic.

For Caterina, seeing through challenging tasks was nothing new. She moved to Asia 13 years ago, landing a job as a journalist for Shanghai Daily in 2011 before taking on various roles in marketing and communications in mainland and Hong Kong.

But to plan and execute an in-person gathering in a city with one of the toughest pandemic restrictions was at once difficult and exciting.

“Some people told me, ‘No, Caterina. Don't dare. It's okay if you don't do it,’” she said in an interview with The Beat Asia.

“But if you give me a challenge, I'm happy [to do it]. The challenge and fear sometimes push you to do something even better.”

Three months later, in December 2021, the ItalianCham held its Christmas Dinner at the opulent The Ritz-Carlton, gathering members, local companies, and investors under the Diamond Ballroom’s glittering chandeliers to clink glasses and celebrate Italy’s flavours and culture. It was what everybody needed, Caterina said.

“Everyone needed a little bit of fun after a tough year. It was challenging, but absolutely fun.”

The annual Christmas Dinner is part of ItalianCham’s Signature Events and one of the many initiatives and activities it organizes to help its member companies network and share business opportunities.

Most recently, the ItalianCham partnered with The Beat Asia for Italian Week 2023, an epicurean adventure featuring a range of Hong Kong and Macao's best Italian restaurants. From May 29-June 4, diners can enjoy set dinners, lunches, and brunches from the best Italian restaurants in Hong Kong and Macao, curated by the finest Italian chefs in the region.

“It's a great moment to celebrate the chefs, wines, and Italy’s products, as well as welcome non-locals to our Italian community. The Italian Chamber is not only for Italians. The Italian Chamber welcomes everyone.”

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao
Photo from Facebook/The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao

Through events like wine tastings and private dinners, the ItalianCham helps companies bring their businesses to new heights through the best tool at their disposal, the language of food. But apart from F&B, the Chamber is equally focused on bringing other industries to the fore.

One of its major projects is the Greater Bay Area Roadshow, a four-day event targeting innovative small and medium Italian companies willing to explore new market opportunities and create synergies with Hong Kong and Shenzhen companies through collaborations and technology development. Scheduled on Sept. 12-15, the roadshow will spotlight dynamic Italian new tech SMEs in the growth stage—such as agritech, smart mobility, energy, and pharmatech, with a broader view on ESG—and help them penetrate new markets, access international funding and soft-landing services, and forge partnerships.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao
Photo from Facebook/The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao

Meanwhile, Caterina shared their move to a bigger space in Sheung Wan, allowing the Chamber to hold smaller events and connect more with its members and network.

“When you want to have a bit of Italy, you can come to the Chamber and we will be happy to welcome you.”

To know more about the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macao’s latest events and projects, please click here.

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