My work for food companies revolves around flavour: it is about product development, whether that involves researching new ingredients, evaluating existing product lines, or tasting and testing the prototypes of new creations.
Consulting has taught me that far too often, industrial processes are based on certain preconceptions about flavours and ingredients which would be better off avoided.
In the course of my experience as a consultant to leading food producers, I have created a very simple set of rules. When I start a new project, I stick to them scrupulously.
First rule: I must like the product. It must please my palate. Second rule: il processo di produzione del prodotto deve essere industriale: the production process may be industrial – large quantities, a concern for shelf-life, and wide-scale distribution – but the choice of excellent ingredients cannot be compromised. They must be rich in flavour and free of additives, just as I would choose in my own kitchen. Third rule: the product must be healthy, without added sugars or fats.
To me, collaborating with food producers does not mean giving a testimonial or paid endorsement for a product. Not at all. It means embarking on a journey that will bring a brand new product to the market.
Every new product becomes a success story:
Zerbinati, Ferrero, and Velier are just some of the companies with whom I have worked with great satisfaction and success. From the smallest to the largest, they are all family businesses. Working with companies in the food industry has allowed me to undertake inspiring research, in terms of both the final product and the production process.
The goal – and what interests me the most – is innovation and added value, according to business logic. This is the main difference between offering an endorsement and being a consultant. Understanding the mechanisms and complexities of corporate life is essential for working together in a constructive way. My professional experience in healthcare companies, at the start of my career, taught me this years ago.
For Zerbinati, we designed soups to help rediscover the pleasure of harmonious flavour, thanks to the balanced combination of organic vegetables and carefully selected ingredients.
My inspiration stems from many different things. Following my instructions, the company cooked the recipes in a home-like kitchen with fresh, simple, high-quality raw ingredients. Then we tasted them, and next, the company designed the industrial line to reproduce on a large scale exactly what was done in that kitchen: think huge pots of soup, but controlled by timers and sensors.
For the first fully natural vegetable burger produced in Italy, again with Zerbinati, I was inspired by the flavours of Greece, in particular keftedakia: meatballs made with yellow split peas. Thanks to their natural thickening power, we could make and sell a product without artificial ingredients. Above all, it is so delicious that it has been imitated by many!
For Ferrero, I helped design a snack that had the aroma and flavour of the old-fashioned ingredients once used to make healthy and tasty after-school treats.
At Expo2020, I engaged the management in a tasting session where different options for the product were compared to the best breads, milks, and jams made in Italy. This is how Kinder Cerealè was born: a snack made with whole wheat and rye flours – an important turning point for Ferrero.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Velier – a very ethical company that selects and distributes liqueurs and products made by genuine food geniuses: farmers and artisans.
For Velier, I mapped and selected small producers of extra fine quality foods, the same ones I keep in my pantry. Therefore, it wasn’t difficult for me to endorse them, because my appreciation for them is long-standing and sincere.
I believe in the possibility of making natural, simple, and unadulterated products that taste delicious. And I welcome the chance to put all my experience into them – and my face onto them!