Héctor Rolotti, the Argentinian-born founder of the Novecento chain of restaurants, jumped into the Ganges River in India on Monday and has been missing ever since.
According to the Miami Herald, the 47-year-old was walking along the riverbank near the city of Rishikesh, about 125 miles northeast of Delhi, on a yearly yoga retreat with his wife, Mora Barber, and a group of friends. Somehow, one of their friends ended up in the water and having trouble navigating the river’s strong current.
Rolotti and five others jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue their friend; the restaurateur was the only one who didn’t return to shore.
“They are hoping they can find him still,” Maria Jacques, marketing manager for Novecento USA, which operates restaurants in New York City and three in the Miami area, told the Herald.
The company issued a statement late on Wednesday that read, “With the support of local authorities, the embassy of Argentina in India, members of the YPO [Young Presidents Organization] and the surrounding community where the event took place, the relentless search for Hector continues both in the Ganges River and along its banks.”
According to the Buenos Aires paper, La Nación, Rolotti was born in Córdoba, Argentina, and received no formal culinary training before moving to New York City as a 20 year old.
In 1991, he opened his first eatery, “a small café that also sold ice cream and pastries,” he told La Nación, in SoHo. He was all of 24 when the first Novecento opened.
What was the significance of the name? “I had seen ‘1900,’ the Bernardo Bertolucci film,” he told La Nacion, and loved it. “One day I said, ‘It’s going to be called Novecento,’ and it stuck.”
Rolotti also operated Novecento restaurants in Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. He and Barber have been living in Miami since 1999. They have three kids.