Massimiliano Neri: The Entrepreneur whose passion changed Naples’s food scene!

massimiliano neri

Massimiliano Neri is living proof that chasing your dreams is always possible. Walking away from the promising corporate career awaiting him in Milan, Massimiliano opened the first sushi restaurant in central southern Italy. His entrepreneurial success story combines passion, know-how and international cuisine, confirming that a ‘passion plus work’ formula is always a win-win.  

After completing an undergraduate degree in Paris and a two-year master’s degree in Japan, Massimiliano followed his passion for Japanese history and culture. This is why, 16 years ago, he opened  Kukai, a restaurant aiming to pout Naples into contact with the Rising Sun through the fastest way to convey a message: FOOD!

It seemed like a crazy idea, doomed from the start, to everyone around him, including his family and friends. After all, how could a sushi restaurant be successful in the Campania region of Italy, known for its incredible traditional seafood dishes such as spaghetti alle vongole and risotto alla Pescara? 

Massimiliano Neri on the importance of community

But Massimiliano Neri was adamant. His passion for Japanese culture, his keen sense of style, and his love of photography empowered him to push forward and make his dream a reality. His story is different because Massimiliano was only partially driven by the economic aspect of a business. Instead, he wanted his restaurant to be a place of relaxation, a hidden gem around the pizzerias in historic Naples and a pillar of his community. 

“In Japan, the good of the community is always more important than that of the individual. For them, intelligence lies in giving up some of their immediate profit, easily reachable by overpowering others, by virtue of the fact that living in a functional system brings them a far more significant advantage to everyone. It is this sense of collectivity, that I would import into Italy. “


Massimiliano Neri on the creation of beauty

His second restaurant, Iki, this time opened in Capri, is an art gallery, sushi restaurant, terrace bar and design shop. 

“Japan is a country where everyone is dedicated to the creation of beauty in a way and with an intensity unknown to the rest of the world. This aspect of Japanese culture fascinated me from the first moment. Not surprisingly, I have always tried to match the aesthetics of the dishes to that of the environment in which they are consumed “.


Massimiliano Neri on the importance of sharing

But what is Massimiliano’s advice to those who want to follow their dreams and are afraid they will fail?  

“The secret of living is giving, if you follow your dreams then you will have something worth sharing with others, hope, inspiration and a meaning to life, and that, to me, is a great contribution.”


And what about you?

Passion is vital, no matter what you choose to do. And once you add commitment and clarity about your vision, you will be unstoppable! We hope Massimiliano’s story inspired you, and if you want to start your transformation journey, we invite you to look at our ONLINE COACHING SPACE.  

Our life- and business-changing programs combine coaching, consulting and enablement. They provide you with a roadmap that you can follow. The proven concept behind our programs will make you feel committed and proud of yourself and your progress.

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