Our Team


– General Manager, Borja Martinez Otero –

Always with a cheeky grin and twinkle in the eye, Pirata’s General manager Borja Martinez Otero brings energetic passion and an adventurous flair to the team. After studying architecture in Madrid, Borja decided to venture to Shanghai where he began his journey and love for hospitality. His first year in Shanghai saw him managing the restaurant of the Spanish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

Borja’s outstanding management and front of house skills caught the attention of the 3 Michelin star Chef Martin Berasategui, who mentored and trained him at his acclaimed eponymous restaurant Martin by Martin Berasategui. Borja most recently worked as General Manager at El Coctel of the El Willy group, where he managed the unique cocktail bar for three years. A hunger for a new adventure brought him to Hong Kong, where he joined forces with the Pirata team, quickly becoming a much loved part of the family. Borja speaks fluent English and Mandarin.


– Our Chef, Stefano Rossi –

Chef Stefano Rossi was born in Turin and raised by his grandparents. It was in his grandmother’s kitchen that he took his first step towards becoming a chef whilst his grandfather’s vegetable garden provided him the freshest seasonal ingredients for his family apprenticeship.

Under his grandmother’s mentorship Stefano learned traditional piedmont cuisine and was inspired to join the Giuseppina Colombatto cooking school.

Stefano went on to work in Michelin starred establishments focusing on traditional cuisine.

In 2010 Stefano moved to Hong Kong, bringing his traditional culinary skills and creations to the local dining scene. Focused on creating wholesome and homely fare that pays homage to his roots, Stefano is proud to lead the kitchen at Pirata.


– Bar Manager, Sam Lebel –

With over 8 years of experience in the F&B industry, Sam is well-acquainted with the science of crafting a great cocktail. With his in-depth knowledge on everything from Gin to Vermouth, Sam’s touch and expertise can be found in the creative drink menus of Pirata and The Optimist.   

Having honed his mixology skills in his hometown Paris, Sam built his reputation as a top-notch bartender at premiere French establishments from l’Hotel des Bains in the south of France, famous for its wines, to Le SO in Paris.

Known for his creative concoctions and perfect pairings, Sam makes a mean espresso martini – a delicious combination of rum and amaretto exploding with raspberry, citrus and chocolate flavors. With a passion for experimentation, Sam brings his daring mixology skills to The Optimist and Pirata– putting Hong Kong on the global cocktail map.


– Founder, Manuel Palacio –

Pirata co-founder Manuel Palacio has a deep rooted passion for quality service. He began his career in hospitality at age 13 in his native Madrid before traveling to both England the United States to develop his skills at a number of noteworthy establishments. Throughout his service tenure, Manuel has worked at some of the most coveted international hot spots in London, New York, Ibiza and Hong Kong including Floridita and Armani Aqua. He recently opened asador-inspired restaurant The Optimist with restaurant partner Christian Talpo.

Whilst working in Hong Kong, Manuel noticed a gap in the market in terms of service – Western dining, including Italian cuisine, has become almost an intimidating experience for Hong Kong diners due to impersonal and unapproachable service. Committed to providing a deeply personal yet approachable hospitality experience, Manuel decided to open his own concept with a focus on exceptional service and traditional values. Thus Pirata was born.


– Founder, Christian Talpo –

From a small town in the North of Italy, Pirata co-founder Christian Talpo stepped into the hospitality business working in a hotel with foreign guests that sparked a new-found love of travel, service and languages. With passion and determination, he has garnered over 25 years of experience in the F&B industry, successfully heading up project operations for the Aqua Restaurant Group as well as managing Zuma in Central, and the flagship operations for Gaia Group. Together with Manuel, Christian opened The Optimist in October 2015, a northern Spanish asador-inspired restaurant, which brought an authentic Spanish grill experience to Wan Chai’s dining scene.

Christian’s adventurous spirit has taken him further than the boundaries of the ordinary businessman. His morals and virtues are evident in everything he is involved with. Christian loves food above all else: in his career he headed modern Chinese and Sichuan, Japanese, Spanish, French, international and of course Italian restaurants, developing an intrinsic love of these diverse cultures and their cuisines.