Pasta Evangelists is inspired by the founder’s Italian grandmother
Alessandro Savelli, the founder of Pasta Evangelists, the UK’s first fresh pasta company with recipe kits and takeaways delivered straight to your door, plus pasta-making classes and a pasta bar at Harrods , discusses his inspiration as well as the challenges of running a fast-paced, multifaceted growing business.
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How did you come up with the idea for Pasta Evangelists and how has that idea changed since you started the business you run now? The idea came from a pasta-making masterclass I attended in London with my wife. The experience was a lovely reminder of growing up in Liguria, where I watched my nonna, Maddalena, make gnocchi as a weekend treat. I was inspired by the real know-how presented during this masterclass. I wanted to create a company that “evangelizes” the true production of fresh pasta, a tradition that has existed in Italy for hundreds of years.
How do you define comfort food for the modern restaurant? These days, premium products are everywhere, from ice cream and burgers to pizza and tonic water. Luckily, this means you don’t have to compromise on quality to enjoy comfort food. For me, the best kind of comfort food is nutritious and prepared with care. For me, the best comfort food is enhanced with gourmet ingredients, whether it’s a shaving of fresh summer truffles over macaroni and cheese, or choosing the highest quality pecorino romano to make a simple, but sublime, cheese and black pepper.
How do you develop recipes and maintain a diverse and exciting offer? Travels, family traditions and lots of tastings! Many of our dishes, like our Harrods favourite, Chef Mario’s Chicken Cacciatore, are family recipes passed down from generation to generation of the Italians on our team.
What food trends do you see that are really exciting? What about those who are frustrated? Fashions are frustrating. Instead, Pasta Evangelists draws inspiration from the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven since ancient times. The idea here is simply that if you eat the right variety of foods in a balanced way, you will get enough of everything you need. Whether it’s evolving our range to introduce whole grains or more plant-based dishes, we are committed to offering a wide variety of quality whole foods.
What do you think makes the perfect meal? Simplicity. I like dishes with few ingredients. When you strip down a dish in this way, you can experience the full range of flavors in your ingredients, whether it’s the distinctive sweet and sour taste of an authentic Modena balsamic vinegar or the savory heat of ‘nduja Calabrian.
How did the partnership with Harrods come about and what are the challenges of running a physical business? Our partnership started with a small deli counter at Harrods Food Hall in 2018, two years after we launched our fresh pasta recipe kit service on pastaevangelsits.com. From there, we built a relationship that evolved over the years, culminating in the opportunity to open a Pasta Bar in their prestigious dining room in 2021. Running a restaurant comes with its own unique challenges: I would say people and service have been our biggest learning curve. We are extremely focused on training, ensuring teams are equipped to deliver the consistently high customer experience customers expect.
What do you like about pasta and Italian cuisine? The most magical thing about Italian pasta culture is variety. There are so many shapes, sauces and recipes to discover, literally hundreds and hundreds, from the 20 different regions of Italy. Some of these forms date back centuries, such as corsets, a unique engraved paste found in my region, Liguria. Pasta is amazing because there is so much more than meets the eye: through pasta you can discover Italy’s history, philosophy, history and culture.
What does no one tell you about running a business? I think entrepreneurs have a responsibility to be honest about how often we experience failures and how long the journey takes. I was certainly not prepared for this. Take fundraising, for example. It’s important for entrepreneurs to know that just because a first meeting didn’t result in an investment, you shouldn’t cross a target investor off your list. Stay in touch, send personalized updates, especially when significant changes have taken place since you last met. Success rarely comes from a fluke, but from persevering, no matter how many times you get knocked down.
What do you like about Italy? The generosity of people. Italians appreciate conviviality and taking time for others.