The language of folding

Luigi has designed the book so that when you are doing each fold you can follow the diagrams without the need for long wordy instructions. You will quickly get used to the symbols, and the book has fold-out flaps to give you an instant reference as you are learning the fold.

For instance, here are the diagrams for the Geisha and Mikado folds shown above.

Have fun! says Luigi

I am so thrilled to see how my napkin designs look in these wonderful photographs, which show so many different approaches to setting tables and creating moods for special occasions and everyday meals. So I hope you enjoy the book, have fun practising the folds, and release your own creativity and imagination. And do please tell me how you get on – email me with stories and pictures, please!


[email Luigi at]

Inspiration, reference, training, challenge

This book is a training manual, a host's reference guide, inspiration for new ideas for table settings, and a challenge for those who want to learn a new skill. Napkin folding is even a lovely therapy for people who need to increase their dexterity and co-ordination and keep their hands and brain supple.

At an exhibition a young man told me that he used napkin folding as a party trick: at dinner he would amaze his friends by folding his napkin into his favourite design and challenging them to try it too. He was delighted to hearn that there were dozens, hundreds of different ways to fold a napkin.

Creativity in a well-dressed table

Good food is enhanced and the atmosphere set by a well-dressed table – and this is where the front of house staff can make their mark. A waiter who has half a dozen folds up his sleeve can influence the image of his establishment; a restaurateur can create a fresh look and mood for the establishment by changing the colour and style of the table linen. Everyone knows the chef is the creative soul of a restaurant, but the front of house staff need an outlet for their creativity, too.

The same goes for the domestic host or hostess – the kitchen is one side of the equation, but the dining room is as important in making guests feel welcome, comfortable and relaxed, so that the whole event is memorable success.

Hello from Luigi

One of the best things I was told as a young man was that my dreams of becoming a chef would never come true. They said my glasses would steam up and fall in the soup, so that was that. But though it seemed like dreadful news, it changed my life. I became a waiter, and discovered front of house and an opportunity for a fantastic career for someone who loves people.

I left my home in Venice and came to England, and over the next 20 years worked my way up first to being a restaurant manager, and then working as a banqueting manager for some of the most prestigious banqueting houses in London. I discovered a talent for folding napkins, and I have been designing, exhibiting and teaching this craft now for many years.

This book has been a dream of mine for some time, because I want so much to get the message across both to my colleagues in the hospitality industry, and to everyone who loves to entertain at home.

Welcome to Luigi's world!

Luigi Spotorno has over 35 years' experience in the catering industry; he has appeared on ITV's This Morning show, on LBC radio, in the Sunday Express, and London Evening Standard. He has created napkin folds as a tribute to the Queen's Golden Jubilee, Prince Charles's wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles, and for opera singer Luigi Pavarotti. He has also created his unique Olympic Flame fold specially for the London Olympics in 2012 – everyone can practise it during 2008 Beijing Games...

Born in Venice, Luigi develolped his napkin folding skills at sea, working in the first class dining rooms of liners including the Canberra and Achille Lauro, before settling in London and working as a restaurant manager in some of London's most prestigious restaurants.